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The rights of translation and of reproduction are reserved) 


In response to general request these Essays and 
Lectures have been reprinted in their present form. 
They are but selections from a much larger collec- 
tion of contributions made by the learned author 
to current English literature during the past fifteen 
years. This volume includes e.g, papers which 
originally appeared in the * North of England 
Review/ of Newcastle-on-Tyne ; the * Reform 
Union Gazette/ of Manchester (in 1876), and 
* Eraser's Magazine ' (February 1875) ; also lectures 
or addresses which have been given at Manchester 
(October 14, 1868) ; at the Manchester Friends* 
Institute (October 20, 1872) ; at Gloucester 
(December 2, 1870) ; and at the Manchester 
Athenaeum (October 26, 1876). 

That frequent repetition should occur is inevit- 
able from the form adopted and from the origin of 
the several papers here collected together. Yet it 


cannot surely be too much to hope that such a 
drawback, which neither author nor publishers 
could now rectify, will readily obtain the indul- 
gence of readers who love the investigation of 
truth, and who revere, as all scholars must, the life 
and work of one of the ablest thinkers, clearest 
writers, and sincerest patriots who have adorned 
the English literature of the present century. 

R. B. W. 




I. On luxury in food i-6 

II. On the mission of the vegetarian society . 7-20 

III. What shall we eat? with an inquiry upon 




V. What is vegetarianism, and what is its place 

IN the ethics and economics OF OUR TIME? 63-94 









Most of us are familiar with certain facts of the teetotal 
controversy. We, who oppose wine, beer, and spirits as 
drinks^ do not set ourselves against pleasure in drinking, 
as such ; but we deprecate that form of pleasure which is 
bought too dearly; which is liable to cause what is worse 
than pain, namely, demoralisation. So too it is a suffi- 
cient reason for dissuading the pleasure of flesh-meat, if 
it deprive men of higher and nobler pleasures : for. in- 
stance, if it deprive men of cultivation, leisure, and refine- 
ment, by keeping them poor. Such an argument cannot 
justly be set aside by appealing to the palate. 

Yet, in a highly-respected London weekly paper of no 
small literary pretensions, a leading article, some years 
back, condemned Vegetarianism on grounds which con- 
fess a mean sensuality. It vehemently declared that 
flesh-meat is not necessary to strength or health, and 
treated those as blameably ignorant who were surprized 


at the muscular strength and endurance of vegetarians. 
But it went on to say that the main question is, whether, 
in a world which has so few pleasures, it is worth while 
to give up the pleasure which flesh-meat affords to the 
palate. The reader's first thought might be, * Is the 
editor sarcastic, and intending bitterly to show contempt 
for flesh-eaters?' I fear that this interpretation is in- 
admissible, and that we must take his utterance seriously. 
It is a sad parallel to the wine-lover, with whom *I 
like my wine ' is a sufficient reply to every possible ob- 

However, we remind such a wine-drinker that tastes 
change ; that wine is not the only nice drink ; that many 
who once loved wine have now ceased to hanker for it ; 
and that it is quite degrading to overrule moral argu- 
ments by an appeal to the palate. All this applies to 
Vegetarianism. First of all, we observe that no one re- 
gards raiv flesh as nice ; it has to be cooked : and scarcely 
any flesh, even after cookery, is nice, without vegetable 
additions, as condiments or sauce. The number of 
vegetable flavours is too many to count. The savoury 
herbs used to dress flesh need no definite mention ; they 
often impart to a dish its familiar flavour, which we are 
apt to ascribe to the fibre of the animal. Even pork and 
ham have their characteristic tastes from the sugar, the 
sage and onion, the apple sauce, the mustard or vinegar. 
I have known a person fancy he was eating roast veal, 
when a compost similar to the usual stuffing of roast veal 
was given him. Boiled mutton dressed like boiled pork 
will puzzle many, and deceive some. Hare is a peculiarly 
high-tasted flesh, yet the stuffing and the red-currant 
jelly have much to do with its niceness. There is no end 
of things delicious to the palate. 

On the one hand, we insist that Man is not tied down 


to the alternative of eating flesh-meat or sacrificing enjoy- 
ment of his food ; on the other, we insist that there are other 
pleasures higher and nobler than those of nice savours, 
and there are moral considerations which ought to be 
paramount in our choice of foods. What could an in- 
tellectual man mean by calling this * a world which has so 
few pleasures ? ' Did he possibly mean, that to iht poorest 
and most uncultivated there are no pleasures but those 
of the animal? Was he defending flesh diet for those 
only who have no intellectual pleasures ? Even so ; the 
greatest pleasure of eating depends on keen appetite, not 
on the delicacy of food, were it ever so true that the 
finest of all flavours is that of roast flesh. But a topic 
peculiarly appropriate in this age is, that in our theories 
we aspire towards a state in which all our population 
shall possess so much of refinement and cultivation as to 
make them susceptible of affectional and intellectual 
pleasures; and the great impediment to it is found in 
that waste of resources which sensuality entails. Every 
reasonable man and woman ought to know that the poor 
cannot be lifted above poverty by the benevolence of 
the rich. 

Many who are now poorest, at least in our towns, are 
poorest because they, or their parents, were unthrifty. 
If they continue unthrifty they would fall back again in 
a year or two, though you lifted them several steps up 
to-day. Without self-denial and forethought of the poor 
collectively, the labouring population cannot be raised 
and kept above poverty. We must all be familiarly aware 
how fatal an element beer, cider, and gin are to the 
working population (even when they are not visibly 
drunken) ; for all such drinks waste their surplus means, 
so that they save little or nothing, and live from hand to 
mouth. But is intoxicating drink the sole worker of this 

3 2 


mischief? No; we all know how many shillings and 
pounds run away in tobacco ; but many are not aware, or 
may not have reflected, on the needless expenditure 
caused by the addiction to flesh-meat, which in the last 
twenty-five years has enormously increased in the towns, 
side by side with the increased wages of artizans. Hence 
also the increased price of butcher's meat 

Those who have not closely looked into the matter 
seldom know the important fact that in this quarter of a 
century the consumption of mutton, beef, pork, and 
rabbits has not only drawn off* the resources of our 
artizans, but has actually diminished the quantity of food 
raised in the United Kingdom, and made us more de- 
pendent on foreign supply. To understand how this is, 
two possible modes of feeding cattle must be considered. 
When you desire more sheep or oxen you may lay down 
arable land into grass ; that is one way. It may chance 
to pay best to a farmer, and yet is wasteful to the nation. 
For the quantity of human food hence resulting is but 
a fraction of what would be produced by crops of grain 
or pulse, or other valuable food consumed by man. With 
diligent cultivation produce may increase so much that 
it is hard to make a definite statement; but it is not 
extravagant to say that every acre well cultivated would 
feed seven times as many men by its crops as could be 
fed on the flesh of cattle who do but graze on spontaneous 
grasses. But the farmer saves immensely in wages and in 
manure by not cultivating ; and if the price of butcher's 
meat is high, the sale of cattle may well clear his rent ; 
while the nation has an immense loss of food, and the 
rustic population, being less needed for cultivation, is 
driven into the towns to compete with the townsmen and 
beat down wages. 

The case is not so bad when the land is not laid down 


in grass, but is cultivated for cattle-food, whether turnips 
or mangel-wurzel, beans or cabbages. In this way it 
feeds more cattle and employs more labourers ; yet, still 
there is a large waste. The food which the cattle eat 
displaces the human food which the same fields might 
have grown. The direct crops, consumed by man, would 
feed a much larger population than can live on the car- 
cases of the cattle : probably, at least three times as 

To aid in deciding this question, a careful estimate 
was made in the town of Cincinnati, Ohio, where is a 
vast pig-butchery. The quantity of oatmeal used in 
fattening the pigs was noted down, as also the quantity of 
pig-meat produced. It appeared that the oatmeal would 
have gone nearly four times as far as the pork in feeding 
mankind. The difference is expended on giving to the 
pigs the pleasure of living, if this thought comfort any 
one. But our working classes who have raised the price 
of flesh-meat by competing for it, and have induced the 
farmers to work for the butcher rather than for the grain 
market and the greengrocer, have greatly wasted their 
own resources by it. The proof of this is found in the 
fact that vegetarian families, who are almost always 
teetotalers, have much pecuniary advantage over those 
who are teetotalers without being vegetarian. 

What advantage has been gained in the last forty 
years by this change from a cheaper to a more expensive 
diet it seems impossible to say. In whole counties of the 
North, where manufactures are widely spread, it is attested 
that the fathers of the present generation were not less 
strong and healthy, yet scarcely had a bit of butcher's 
meat dftener than once a week. Fat bacon, no doubt, in 
many places, did duty in place of butter ; and if work- 
men restricted themselves to this, it might be pleaded 


that it is less expensive than good butter. All the benefit 
that can be reasonably alleged is, that the workmen have 
had a more palatable food. Of course it is their taste, 
besides imitation of the habits of the richer, which has 
drawn them on ; but if they had been better instructed 
as to food, and as to proper cookery, they might have 
had solid and equally savoury dishes of vegetarian food 
at far less expense. 

^^^^KS* ON DIET, 7 



It is assuredly a noble delight to take part in the doings 
of a triumphant society which counts its advocates by the 
hundred thousand, and is bringing some good cause to a 
successful issue. But, as I feel it, there is also a serene 
pleasure in belonging to a great movement during its 
period of weakness, if we so approve the soundness of 
its basis as to see by faith its future extended honour, 
and its substantial services in each passing year. Unless 
I were able, in some such way, to glorify the Vegetarian 
vSociety, I probably should not have wished to belong to 
it, and could not with propriety speak on its behalf. Yet 
it may not be unacceptable to some to know what are in 
my view the functions and (if I may so phrase it) the 
high caUing of the society. 

The Vegetarian Society, according to my notion, is 
not properly described as having for its end to induce 
men to eat only things vegetable, but to eat naturally, 
healthfully, reasonably, and (if so I may say) spiritually — 
that is, as befits a spiritual being. And because we be- 
lieve that — at least on the whole, at least to the millions 
of our nation — a renunciation of flesh-meat tends directly 


to fulfil these conditions, and is a first step of great im- 
portance towards them, therefore we assume our practice 
and our name as Vegetarians. But if one of us become 
addicted to the pleasures of eating, and spend vast sums 
of money in elaborate cookery and delicate food, making 
such indulgences a prominent object of life — in short, 
living to eat, instead of eating to live — I do not think any 
of us would be proud of such a member. His example 
would not seem to us very beneficial to his neighbour- 
hood and acquaintance. If I am right in this belief, our 
society is aiming at a nobler object than that literal and 
petty one which might be sarcastically defined by an 
opponent as living on eggs and refusing chickens. I 
purpose here to develope on what principles our actions 
refute this sarcasm, and rise above it as an intellectual 
and spiritual force. Nay, I must add the society pre- 
sented itself to me first as important on the side of 
political economy ; and although I by no means think it 
to be restricted to an economical aspect, I am persuaded 
that this is an essential part of its service, and that this 
side may beneficially be made very prominent in the 
present condition of England and of Europe. 

It is not by accident that so large a number of the 
members of this society are teetotalers. It would satisfy 
my curiosity if any one could tell me how many per cent, 
of us drink alcoholic liquors and how many per cent, of 
us are smokers. Unquestionably the temperance societies 
and our society are legitimate sisters. Each desires the 
welfare of the million, and is thereby exposed to the 
taunt of seeking to dictate to other people's tastes. Each 
aims at what may be despised as a very narrow object — 
a single step away from vice or towards virtue. Teetotalers 
teach men to beware of that taste for alcohol which strews 
whole nations with wreck and misery. They warn against 


the first step towards pauperism, we suggest the first step 
in the right use of wealth. If a nation can be freed from 
intoxicating drinks it will therewith be rid of the great 
mass of violent crime ; but crimes of cun?iing remain to 
be dealt with. The temptation to theft is increased in 
proportion as it is hard to get the necessaries of life. 

No doubt eagerness to obtain luxuries of every kind 
with small or no exertion and with the least delay, is the 
chief motive to great mercantile frauds and forgeries. 
In the luxury of the opulent no large part of the expense 
is caused by eating. But with those who work for wages 
a main expense is under this head. The temptation to 
petty dishonesty is prodigiously greater to the man who 
lives close up to his income and has never a farthing to 
spare, than to him who has always a little surplus ; and 
let it be carefully remembered, that as no one becomes 
a drunkard all at once, so no one reared in industry 
becomes a thief, except from small beginnings. 

I am keenly aware how far mere prudence falls short 
of virtue, and how easily prudence degenerates into an 
unamiable selfishness. Nevertheless, on the great scale, 
looking to the moral state of whole nations, I am inclined 
to judge no one habit (after temperance) to be so con- 
ducive to all virtue as the prudential habit of securing a 
surplus, after expenditure on all things necessary. This 
is commonly called * living beneath one's income.' In- 
deed, without it how can we be generous ? Generosity 
is impossible to him who has no surplus. Let him try to 
be generous, and it will be at the expense of other people 
— of his kinsmen, or neighbours, or of the parish. Parents 
allow their children pocket-money, not only to teach them 
how to spend wisely, but also to afford them the luxury 
of giving away. What virtue more softens and elevates a 
poor working man or woman than generosity out of slender 


means ? With a little experience that out of honest toil 
they can not only supply their own wants, but also be 
generous, the temptation to dishonesty becomes blessedly 
feeble. Let us not forget that everywhere it is a received 
policy to give large salaries to all public officers who 
might be tempted to peculation, and to judges, who 
might else accept bribes, and that in India the English 
civil servants were corrupt while their official pay was 
low, and were raised above suspicion by liberal salaries. 
We must never overlook, in an argument concerning 
masses of men, that incipient virtue is a force whose 
limits are soon reached. That it may grow up into 
strength, it must not be tempted while it is weak and 

To abstain from flesh-meat may be in itself more or 
less beneficial ; the amount of benefit may be variously 
estimated ; yet it is not that which I now press. But if 
by such abstinence a mass of people find themselves 
practically richer, without impairing health and strength 
or the healthful relish of food, the total result on public 
morality may be very great. Those who are enriched by 
fortune, or, by successfully threatening to strike, are apt 
to be made extravagant by it; but those who become 
richer by frugality have no burning to spend. They 
either save prudently or give generously, and in both 
ways gain some elevation : certainly they are lifted above 
the worst temptations to dishonesty. While the majority 
of our people lives on the edge of starvation, consuming 
its means as fast as they are produced, liable to sudden 
destitution by the failure of an employer, by the severity 
of a winter, or by some foreign event, I do not expect 
any great moral improvement. 

As for our artizans, I believe that they have only 
themselves to blame if they continue in this deplorable 


State. The experience of teetotalers proves that, by mere 
abstinence from such drink as is certainly needless and 
probably hurtful, they may make a most important be- 
ginning of independence. But it delighted me to learn, 
over and above, peculiarly by the testimony of Mr. Henry 
Pitman, how much can practically be saved to every 
family by vegetarian food. I confess I had been pre- 
judiced by elaborate cookery-books of vegetarians into 
the belief that an accomplished cook was needful ; and I 
had heard that the late Mr. Brotherton's cookery was of 
a very troublesome and expensive kind, impossible to a 
humble family. In past years I was always repelled from 
the system by this erroneous notion. Certainly Vege- 
tarianism may have utihty for those who can afford it, 
even if it be attended with double trouble and double 
cost. But I beg all to consider that this system is not 
presentable to working men, unless it be cheap and easy ; 
that it is not likely to be accepted unless it be cheaper 
than, and as easy as, the food to which they are accus- 
tomed; and that, as the poorer classes are the ma- 
jority, its great excellence must be adaptation to their 

The first practical inference is, that our purpose is 
defeated by promoting any special run upon one sort of 
food, which cannot be supplied indefinitely. Thus, it 
being already difficult or impossible to get good milk in 
towns, we do harm if we urge an increased use of milk 
and cream. In Ireland much land, once cultivated, is 
now given back to grazing. This is evil, for it lessens the 
rustic population and drives them into towns, and the 
food for man produced from grazing land is said not to 
average one-third of that which the same land would 
yield in crops for man's direct consumption. But whether 
we demand more milk or more meat involves the very 


same results. We cannot have much more milk unless 
more calves are born. The cows, I believe, have long 
since been kept in a milch state as long as possible. 
More milk must mean more cows and calves, more 
grazing land, more dependence on foreign corn, more 
risk of starvation through war, even when we are 

Now, assuming that our food, be it what it may, gives 
the elements which nature needs, it surely is of high 
moral and even spiritual importance that it consume the 
minimum of effort, of anxiety, or of thought. Most 
lamentable is it when all the labour of man is for his 
mouth ; most desirable it is to satisfy our lower wants at 
the cheapest rate, and reserve as much as possible for 
higher wants. The artizans of England are well aware 
that knowledge is power ; they are alive to the importance 
of travel and the enjoyment of beautiful country. In no 
case is there any danger of their relapsing into contented 
idleness, if their bodily wants are easily supplied. Savages 
who are reared in peculiar habits will not betake them- 
selves to our industries ; but the last thing to be feared 
concerning Englishmen is, that they should stagnate in 
contented poverty if their lowest needs are easily satis- 
fied. Enormously greater is the danger, on which I must 
not here dilate, that zeal for female finery may intercept 
funds which ought to have been better applied. Nay, I 
do not wonder that in higher ranks a society should have 
arisen pledged to dress according as might be most con- 
venient, simple, and becoming to the individual, without 
regard to Fashion. For it is evident that, without the 
moral support which union gives, few have strength to 
resist that invisible tyrant. 

But, in truth, this belongs to a larger subject — that of 
luxury. The vulgar idea of happiness is indulgence in 


luxury, and out of this rises the haste to get rich, and 
ruinous mercantile frauds. Our society cannot pretend 
that accession to its practice is in itself any great advance 
to man or woman ; but to start aright is a vast advantage. 
To get into the right road from the first may save half of 
a traveller's toil. Paley well says, that *to have one's 
habits set rightly' is the best beginning for virtue and 
happiness* Historians report that a Greek ambassador, 
who visited the Roman consul Manius Curius with the 
purpose of bribing him, was smitten with despair when 
he found him dining on roast turnips. Simple habits in 
eating and drinking lead naturally to independence of 
mind and intellectual tastes. Such tastes carry men into 
a new sphere, remove them from many low vices, and 
make many virtues easier. 

May I take one step farther, and, without incurring 
the censure of Malthus, or rather, in defiance of Mal- 
thusian economists, utter my mind on a critical matter ? 
I confess that, when I know of no special reason against 
it, I always hear with pleasure of the marriage of a young 
couple. Young people who are industrious and self- 
denying, who have simple tastes and inexpensive habits, 
are everywhere able to maintain a family, unless the 
public institutions are gravely to blame ; for, even as a 
slave, a man is worth more than his keep. Every in- 
dustrious and intelligent labourer adds more to the wealth 
of society than he or she needs to take from it, and the 
. greatest wealth of every land is its people. I have learnt 
with joy how easy vegetarians find the feeding of a young 
family to be. When we return to the course of nature 
from which we have so widely deviated, when parents 
train their children to simplicity, and vegetarian food is 
but a type of that general hardihood for which many of 
our young nobility rush into foreign wildernesses, will 


not marriages become more general and earlier among 
our gentry and our townsfolk? and shall we not have 
new aids in struggling against social vices, upon which 
we all fear to dwell ? 

Considering how formidable are the vices of which 
luxury is parent, one might have hoped to meet with 
more practical protest against it from Christian Churches. 
Indeed, in the form of asceticism the protest does meet 
us both in the Roman Church and elsewhere ; but this is 
not the thing needed. I do not admit — I do not see 
how any of us can admit — that to live on vegetarian food 
involves self-denial, or mortifies the flesh. To weaken 
the body is precisely what we deprecate, and we deny 
that a judicious vegetarian diet has this tendency. As 
to self-denial, that of course is possible in every case. A 
flesh-eater may annoy himself by tough, unsavoury meat, 
with grease neither hot nor cold ; a vegetarian must find 
a peach to be nicer than a sloe, and custard than butter- 
milk. But assuredly the true enjoyment of food depends 
on hunger, or rather on healthy appetite, which one who 
eats for pleasure is apt to impair. Whether vegetarians 
are ever guilty of excess in quantity, and eat to surfeit, I 
am not informed ; but I think we can claim for our prac- 
tice that it saves us from the temptation. I find the 
food in general so to fill my stomach that it becomes 
painful to eat more the moment I have enough, and, as 
far as I remember to have read concerning savages and 
rude nations, it is always when a sheep or ox, or some 
large game is killed, that they have a carousal, and 
stupefy themselves by over-eating. But that we may 
pamper our tastes inordinately, and become cloyed by 
excess, is of course plain. 

Now, if anyone ask, * Why are delicious fruits, and 
leaves or roots with fine flavour, so adapted to our palates ? 


Are pineapples not to be eaten ? And who should eat 
them but those who can afford it ? ' — the questions highly 
deserve attention. 

I know a generous man — not a vegetarian — who has 
a pinery and a good grapehouse ; and if he or his wife 
hear of sick persons, delicate in appetite, they dehght 
more to send them the fruit than put it on their own 
table. This gives me the clue to the general reply. We 
are not all in robust health ; we have not always keen 
appetites. For the actually sick we must study to get food 
as delicate and palatable as possible. For them em- 
phatically are made the most luscious grapes and the 
inestimable orange. To all of us every fine flavour comes 
most acceptably when nature is least vigorous. But the 
stout stomach of those who are happily able to preserve 
habits wholly natural, enjoys with little distinction every 
healthful meal ; and while it on no account despises, nor 
fails to discriminate, things more dainty, yet it may proudly 
adopt St. Paul's noble words : * I know how to be abased 
and I know how to abound.' And this is the more 
enviable state, to be able to take all things as they come. 
One pleasant lesson I have learnt by my experience of 
vegetarianism — that, in matter of eating, the poor in 
general need not envy the rich : — I mean, when poverty 
is not such as to withhold things healthful, but is solely 
such as to impose coarser food. I believe that in the 
long run the stomach thrives better on what is commoner 
and coarser, and appetite more than makes up for what is 
deficient in delicacy to the palate. 

I perceive by the* Dietetic Reformer' and other books 
that vegetarians press greatly the cruelty occasioned by 
the diet of flesh-meat. My first impression was, that they 
overlook the ultimate inevitable necessity of our killing 
gentle birds and beasts in order to protect our crops. 


May I venture the answer to this, which has presented 
itself to me on more continuous thought ? 

An active-minded physician, a man of muchoriginaHty, 
great research, and no small ability — one, moreover, who 
is no vegetarian— Dr. Henry McCormac, of Belfast, has 
investigated personally the cruelties of vivisection. He 
speaks of them with horror. He tells things frightful to 
read, things which I dare not repeat, concerning the 
behaviour of the affectionate animals which are delibe- 
rately put to exquisite torture. After seeing, deploring, 
and denouncing such cruelties. Dr. McCormac visited 
many slaughter-houses in which animals are killed for 
food, and now deliberately avows, that the cruelties of 
butchers equal the cruelties of vivisection, with this dif- 
ference, that those of the butcher are constant, almost 
daily, and those of the vivisector are in comparison seldom 
and few. To this we have now, alas ! to add the terrible 
sufferings endured by cattle in transit to the butcher 
through long journeys, from Scotland to the South of 
England, or from Germany to London ; suffering from 
thirst, hunger, fatigue, terror, and foul air : all which 
things produce disease in the animal, and threaten pesti- 
lence to man. 

At a late meeting in London of the Society against 
Cruelty to Animals certain noble lords spoke excellent 
speeches, deprecating the bearing rein, and other cruelties 
to our horses and dogs. But it occurred to me to wonder 
whether they had ever heard of the immeasurably worse 
things which Dr. McCormac denounces. Certainly it 
cannot be called a morbid sensibility or an amiable weak- 
ness, if any of us resolve to give no practical countenance 
to butchery, believing that it cannot be freed from such 
cruelties, or at least until it is so freed. But much still 
remains behind. Mr, William Howitt has from time to 


time made vigorous protest against the cruelty of the 
steel-toothed traps in which gamekeepers catch not only 
foxes and stoats, but also rabbits, hares, and other 
animals, for whom the traps are not set. This cruelty 
also seems unknown to the Society which I mention for 
honour. Yet what is that to us now ? Just so much. 
The cruelty of the steel trap is only a means of saving 
winged game from stoats, weasels, and foxes, while the 
game are preserved only to be slaughtered. Thus one 
practice draws another after it. 

Now if it be asked, * Shall we not after all be obliged 
to kill the game in self-defence, even if we do not eat it ? ' 
we may reply : i. We shall not kill them by steel traps, 
nor by vivisection ; 2. Their numbers can generally be 
kept down by taking their eggs ; 3. There is yet a simpler 
way ; namely, not to be so active in extirpating every 
carnivorous animal. 

No weasel, no hawk, blunders and boggles in his work 
like a butcher's boy. Dr. Livingstone attests that when 
he was seized by a lion, who caught him by the shoulder 
and shook him aloft in the air, his brain swam in a 
pleasant delirium such that he felt no pain. The lion 
was driven off ; Dr. Livingstone was saved, and endured 
grievous suffering while the mangled limb was healing ; 
but if the beast had not been interfered with, the doctor 
would have died without pain. In this I find much in- 
struction. The carnivora have still some place in creation. 
Though we cannot endure near our dwellings the more 
powerful species, it is easy to run into excess in the 
extirpation of the weaker. Remit excessive persecution 
of the hawk and owl, the stoat and fox ; and, though we 
were all vegetarians, we need not suffer from any excess 
of frugivorous birds. Their numbers will be checked 
without misery from our sportsmen, who often cripple 



instead of killing ; and much more without the far worse 
cruelties of our steel traps. In short, if we return towards 
reason and nature, we may have a just faith that the 
difficulties which we now apprehend will disperse of them- 
selves. This also is the answer which I make to myself 
concerning the supply of leather. 

But, at present, we are truly far off from nature and 
reason, as to our practices and principles, custom and 
law. Pheasant preserves have already shocked many, 
considering that the beautiful birds are preserved with so 
great labour, expense, and cruelty, only to be slaughtered 
in mass. Deer forests, which empty whole countries of 
men, in order that the noble game may be shot down by 
deerstalkers, are an enormity which must, at an early 
period, draw the notice of a reformed Parliament. Does 
it not appear that there is something fundamentally wrong 
in laws of land, which make such expulsion of human 
inhabitants and prohibition of tillage possible ? 

Many other things have to be reconsidered, in law 
and in morality. I cannot but think that the time is not 
very distant when England will largely change her landed 
system ; when men will be able to plant new orchards 
without making a simple present of them to a landlord ; 
when great landowners will think apple trees, pear trees, 
cherry trees, greengages, damsons, not to say chestnuts 
and mulberries, quite as handsome in their parks and 
wildernesses as trees that bear no fruit ; when every 
peasant's garden will have some fruit bushes, or apple 
tree, or greengage ; and English boys will learn not to 
plunder their neighbour's trees. Meanwhile, though by 
our own immoralities our native fruit is scanty, we may 
rejoice that a wiser legislation gives us cheap sugar and 
abundance of foreign dry fruit. Nay, there are few 
months in the year in which we may not reply to the 


* thirsty soul/ who pathetically asks how he is to replace 
his beer or brandy, if his beloved tippling shops be 
lessened in number, that his pocket will easily contain 
some cheap juicy fruit, foreign or native, adequate to 
reheve his distress. 

If anyone is of opinion that flesh-meat and vegetarian 
food are alike able to sustain hfe and strength, — that 
those who can easily afibrd both may well use both ; but 
that, nevertheless, it is a great unwisdom in the poorer 
to struggle for flesh-meat ; that they ought in this contest 
to yield to the richer, and save their small resources for 
better uses : — let him permit me to add a few thoughts 
which may tend to carry him one step farther. So long 
as the richer classes regard flesh-meat as something indis- 
pensable to themselves, no arguments will avail to hinder 
the mass of the poorer from coveting it, and, the moment 
they become richer, applying their new funds to the more 
expensive food. Now, historically, no nation has become 
at all populous, in comparison to its acreage, until the 
mass acquiesces in a food practically vegetarian, con- 
suming barely milk, butter, cheese, and milk in extremely 
small quantity. Such has been the state of the rustic 
population in every known nation of the world, after it 
became settled, civilized, and great. 

To reverse the process, and convert a densely-peopled 
nation into flesh-eaters, is economically impossible : but 
the move in that direction is vehement and specious. It 
will be arrested by public disease and calamity, if con- 
tinued long. Now among the poorer, as among the 
richer, there is but a small fraction of independent minds, 
who will follow argument and conviction rather than 
example and fashion. Hence any richer man who desires 
that the poorer may not be deluded into the chase after 
butcher's meat, ought himself to try to show by his 

c 2 


example that he regards that food as of no necessity. It 
is not essential always and totally to refuse to eat it ; a 
man may show his independence of it, his indifference to 
it, without entire abstinence. He may partake of it when 
he will inconvenience others by refusal, yet at other times 
decline it. And I think we ought to be glad of all such 
partial adhesion to our view as retards the noxious rush 
after flesh-meat. If a considerable fraction of richer men 
were greatly to lessen their consumption of it, and show 
practically that they count it indifferent, their example 
would have with the poorer a practical weight which no 
mere argument or prudential exhortation can have. 




* What shall we eat ? ' is really a question of first impor- 
tance ; but it is seldom so treated. In general, the rich 
eat what they like, and the poor what they can get ; 
neither the one nor the other studies what is best. 
Besides, there is a perverse influence at work of which 
few seem to be aware. Rich men are ashamed to give 
cheap food to their friends, even when the cheap is better. 
London sprats are, in the opinion of many, superior to 
Greenwich whitebait ; yet those who eat sprats in private, 
and prefer them, dare not offer them to their friends, 
because they are cheap. This does but illustrate a 
pervading principle. It is a baneful folly to think that 
what is rare, what is difficult, and what is out of season 
is best. And when the richer, who can well afford it, 
aim at expensive food because it is expensive, the 
poorer, who ill afford it, imitatie them, and get worse 
food at greater cost. I cannot treat the subject of food 
unless we consent, at least for a little while, to look at 
things with fresh eyes, and refuse to be blinded by 
fashion and routine. 

As the word Vegetarianism does not wholly explain 
itself, we may justly ask its meaning. Many suppose it 
to mean a diet consisting of table vegetables. It is true 
that these are an essential part of vegetarian diet, yet they 
are by no means the most important. Vegetarian food 


consists mainly of four heads — farinacea, pulse, fruit, and 
table vegetables. 

1. The ioxQTCio^t IS farinacea ] they are the * staff of 
life.' They are chiefly wheat,, barley, oats, maize, per- 
haps rye ; also potatoes, yams, rice and sago, tapioca, 
and such like. Vegetarians seldom endure baker's bread ; 
they become, fastidious about bread, as teetotalers 
about water ; and often prefer unleavened cakes, as 
Scotch scones, or biscuits not too hard ; else macaroni, 
also oatmeal porridge. The makers of aerated bread 
find that four per cent, of the material is wasted in fer- 
mentation. Besides, we have delicious Oswego or rice 
blaric-mange, or it may be hominy and frumenty. I 
guarantee to all that no one loses a taste for nice things 
by vegetarian food, however cheap. 

2. Under pulse we practically understand peas, beans, 
and lentils. They have excellent feeding qualities, but 
also a particular defect, which is chiefly remedied by 
onions adequately mixed. 

3. The word fruit speaks for itself. The dearer 
fruits are of least importance for food. Than apples 
no fruit is more universally serviceable. The cheaper 
figs, French, Italian, and Spanish, are less cloying and 
more feeding than the luscious Smyrna fig of the shops. 
Raisins and dates are now supplied in cheerful abun- 
dance. Not dates only, but foreign grapes are ever 
better and cheaper. To nuts we do great injustice. We 
put them on the table as dessert, to be eaten when the 
stomach is full, and then slander them as indigestible, 
because the stomach groans under excess of nutriment. 
We call them heavy, because they are nutritious. In 
Syria, walnuts and coarse dry figs make an admirable 
meal Filberts I count better than walnuts, and Brazil 
nuts better stilL Chestnuts, when roasted, are hard to 


cook uniformly well ; but I find them excellent in soup, 
or boiled ; and perhaps of all nuts accessible in England 
they are the most valuable. Cocoa-nuts, when we are 
wiser, will be better applied than to tempt a jaded appe- 
tite to hurtful indulgence. Almonds are too dear to be 
available as food ; yet concerning almonds, a physician 
who is no vegetarian gave me interesting information. 
* No man,* said he, ' need starve on a journey who can fill 
his waistcoat pocket with almonds. If you crush almonds 
thoroughly and duly mix them with water, no chemist in 
Europe can distinguish the substance from milk, and 
milk we regard as the most perfect food.' This suggests, 
moreover, that nuts, to become wholesome, must be 
thoroughly crushed and bitten. The delicious grape, 
noblest of fruits in our latitude, will yet become a general 
food. Oranges abound more and more, and continue to 
be a marvel. But no fruit must be eaten for amusement, 
and taken on a full stomach, or it will not be food 
at all. 

4. A few words on table vegetables. Potatoes and 
pulse I have noticed, and now pass them by. Mushrooms 
are most delicious, and abound with nitrogen ; a rare 
advantage : but we have them too seldom in the 
market. On the whole I regard those vegetables to be 
most important which supply flavour or correct defects 
in other food ; pre-eminently the tribe of onions, also 
celery, parsley, sage, savory, mint, with the foreign 
articles ginger and pepper. Onions and celery we do 
not cook enough ; indeed cabbage and cauliflower are 
eaten half raw by the English; on which account we 
do not know their value. Much the same may be said 
of what the farmer calls roots, i.e. turnips, carrots, parsnips, 
beet. Do not think that I despise any of these when I 
insist that this class of food stands only fourth. One who 


confines himself to these four .heads of diet is indis- 
putably a vegetarian. 

Yet, in fact, few vegetarians do confine themselves 
to this diet ; and herein consists my difficulty in defini- 
tion. We are open to the scoff of being, not vegetarians, 
but Brahmins, who do not object to animal food, but 
only to the taking of animal life. Few of us refuse eggs, 
or milk and its products. This is highly illogical, if we 
seek consistency with an abstract theory. I do not shut 
my eyes to it. The truth is, that in CDokery we need 
some grease, and it is hard to eat dry bread without 
butter or cheese. Our climate does not produce the 
nicer oils. It is not easy to buy oil delicate enough for 
food, and oil (to most Enghshmen) is offensive, from 
tasting like degenerate butter. Cheese, like nuts, is 
maligned as indigestible, barely because it is heaped on 
a full stomach. However, since most vegetarians admit 
eggs and milk, I define the diet as consisting of food 
which is substantially the growth of the earth without 
animal slaughter. If you prefer to call this Brahminism, I 
will not object. But my friend the late Professor Jarrett, of 
Cambridge, entitled our rule the V E M diet.^ I heartily 
applaud the convenient and truthful name. 

We shall all admit that the food which is natural 
to man is best for man ; but we are not agreed how to 
find out what is natural. I cannot wholly accede to 
students of comparative anatomy that the line of argu- 
ment which they adopt is decisive : yet it is well to know 
what it is, and how far it carries us. They assume that 
as in wild animals we see instinct unperverted, and as 
such instinct is a test of what is natural, we have to 
compare the structure of the human teeth and digestive 
apparatus with those of brutes, and thereby learn what 

I V= vegetables, £=eggs, M^milk. 


is natural to man. Since unluckily certain sharp teeth 
of ours are called ca?itne, superficial inquirers jump to 
the conclusion that our teeth were made to rend flesh, 
and on discovering that the alimentary canal of the sheep 
is much longer than that of the lion, longer also than 
that of man, they infer that we are not naturally herbi- 
vorous, but carnivorous. Vegetarians easily refute these 
arguments. They reply that our sharp teeth are ill- 
called canine^ for they do not lap over one another. 
Such teeth are larger and stronger in the ape than in 
man. I believe they are chiefly useful to crack nuts, of 
which monkeys are very fond. Be this as it may, no 
monkey naturally eats flesh, if even when tame some 
may be coaxed into eating it. And it is undeniable 
that the digestive apparatus of the monkey comes very 
near to that of man; hence vegetarians generally infer 
that flesh meat is unnatural to us. The same thing 
follows from the doctrine of the old naturalists, who 
thought the pig and the man to have marked similarities ; 
but wild swine certainly will not eat flesh, therefore man 
ought not. As to the length of the alimentary canal, 
there also vegetarians are easily triumphant. The length 
of it in the man, as in the monkey, is between two ex- 
tremes, the lion and the sheep ; therefore the human con- 
stitution for food is intermediate, Man is neither herbi- 
vorous, as the sheep and horse, nor carnivorous, as the 
lion, but is frugivorous, as the monkey. 

There is another argument of vegetarians which I 
must not omit, though I do not undertake to say how 
much it proves. They allege that carnivorous animals 
never sweat, but man certainly does sweat ; therefore he 
is not carnivorous. Here I feel myself uncertain as to 
fact. Carnivorous animals, made to prowl by night, have 
thick loose skins for defence against cold and wet, even 

26 ^^^^KS* ON DIET. 

in hot climates. In consequence, sweat would not easily 
relieve them from internal heat. How is it with the 
sheep? can they sweat? I do not know. 

But in truth this whole side of argument from the com- 
parison of animals seems to me but of secondary value. 
We cannot find by it what is natural to us, for, universally, 
we cannot find out all the possibilities of the higher 
being by studying the lower being. The assumption that 
we can is the main cause why external philosophy gravi- 
tates into materialism and atheism. The specific differ- 
ence of man and brute lies in the human mind; and 
this, at once and manifestly, has an essential bearing on 
the question of human food. No known animal lights a 
fire, or fosters a fire when lighted. However tender their 
affections, however warm their gratitude or their resent- 
ment, however wonderful their self-devotion, however 
they deserve our fond protection and our reciprocal 
gratitude, there is not one that understands the relation 
of fuel to fire : therefore there is not one that can cook. 
On this account the old logicians called man the * cooking 
animal ' ; and though, happily, this description does not 
exhaust the capacity of our nature, it affords (on the 
lower side of Nature) a sufficient criterion, distinguishing 
us from ail known brutes. 

Without our power of cookery, we could not make half 
the use we do of Vegetarian food. What would a potato 
be to us uncooked ? Of how little avail would onions 
and cauliflower, turnips and beans, or even corn itself, 
be without fire? We can no more conceive of man 
without power of cooking than of man without power 
of sowing, reaping, and grinding. It may fairly be 
maintained by the advocate of flesh-eating that if it 
pleased the Creator to develop the gorilla's brain, and 
give him a little more good sense, without altering his 


digestive organs or his teeth, the creature would begin 
by roasting chestnuts and broiling mushrooms, and go on 
to discover that roast flesh has many of the qualities of 
those princely fungi in whose praises enthusiastic votaries 
rave to us. Now if I have to admit that a gorilla might 
perhaps become a flesh-eater, if he had only the wit to 
cook, you may think that I abandon the cause of Vege- 
tarianism. Nay, but my cause is so strong that I can 
afford not to overstrain a single argument. 

If man had not the power of cooking, and had a 
natural incapacity for eating raw flesh, his command of 
food would be so limited, that he could not have over- 
spread the earth as he has. He certainly never could 
have found food in arctic regions ; scarcely would he 
have found it adequate for his sustenance in the tem- 
perate zone when he alighted on a country covered with 
forest and swamp. The operations of agriculture require 
long time and much co-operation before a wild land can 
be tamed ; and meanwhile, on what is the first cultivator 
to live ? We know what has been the course of history 
in nearly all countries. Only in a few, as China, India, 
Assyria, Egypt, the banks of the great navigable rivers, 
with alluvial or inundated land, gave such facility to the 
sower, that there is not even tradition of the time when 
tillage began. 

But in general, wild men in a wild country ate 
whatever they could get — or get most easily. In the 
woods wild game abounded— everywhere something, 
though varying from continent to continent Besides 
birds innumerable, endless tribes of antelope and deer in 
one place, of kine in another — whether the cow, or the 
buffalo, or the bison — of sheep in a third allured the 
hunter ; and cookery made the flesh of all eatable. We 
certainly can eat uncooked oysters. It is dangerous to 


deny that savage stomachs, when half-starved, can live on 
raw flesh and raw fish. But whether it be cause or effect, 
the tribes which have come nearest to this state have been 
either very degenerate or very primitive specimens of 
humanity. If very primitive, they do but display unde- 
veloped man, and they are the smallest fraction of the 
human race. 

The second stage in human civilisation is to rear 
tame cattle, if there are wild animals capable of being 
tamed. In the old world the sheep, the cow, the 
reindeer, or the buffalo became domesticated time out 
of mind ; also the camel ; and in South America the 
llama ; but the bison of North America, it seems, is un- 
tamable, so that the pastoral state did not there develop 

The transition from pasture to agriculture is a serious 
difficulty. To defend crops is most arduous ; in' fact is 
impossible to the private cultivator, unless he is armed 
with formidable weapons of war which the savage cannot 
get. Agriculture must ordinarily be, in the first instance, 
the act of the tribe collectively, and the crops their common 
property protected by their joint force. Until there is a 
powerful public executive, armed to defend private pro- 
perty, agriculture is too dangerous for an individual. On 
this account certain tribes have abhorred cultivation and 
fixed dwellings, as exposing the industrious man to slavery 
under marauders. Thus the Nabatheans of old, thus 
Jonadab the son of Rechab, forbade their children to 
build houses, or sow seed, or plant vines, because it inter- 
fered with wild liberty. Tribes who live by hunting 
only, need a vast space of land in which their game may 
live quietly ; from a small area it would quickly be fright- 
ened away ; hence such tribes have always been a very 
sparse population, and insignificant in the world's history. 


Those who live by pasturage, driving their flocks and 
herds from place to place, and building no houses, have 
generally been marauders ; indeed the Tartars and Scy- 
thians, who used the waggon as there home, in all earlier 
ages, were the great military nations, the conquerors of 
the more civilized. Though they mighty begin by living 
on the flesh and milk of their cattle, they soon learned to 
obtain grain, either by cultivating it themselves (for they 
were strong enough to protect it), or by purchasing it 
from neighbours by giving cattle in exchange, or by ex- 
torting it as a tribute from peaceful, but weaker cultivators. 
And in proportion as they lived on grain they were capable 
of becoming more populous ; thus population became 
denser, step by step, as flesh-meat was superseded by 
wheat and barley, by maize and rice. 

In the far north, where Finns and Lapps dwell almost 
side by side, the Lapps feed as of old on the products 
of the sea, or on the milk and flesh of the reindeer ; but 
the Finns have introduced corn culture, and live upon 
grain. The Finng are the stronger, larger, and handsomer 
men. At any rate their diet has agreed with them, even in 
that latitude ; but I do not mean to say that men may not 
retain perfect health and strength on either food, so far 
as health can be tested by the surgeon. The ancient 
Germans practised but little agriculture, says Caesar. By 
intercourse with Rome, especially on the Roman frontier, 
they became cultivators. In our own island, as we well 
know, agriculture existed before Saxon times ; but at the 
Norman conquest and long after, the land devoted to 
cattle or left in a state of Nature vastly predominated. 
In those days the poorest ate much more flesh-meat than 
now. There has been a continual diminution of flesh- 
meat and far higher supplies of vegetarian food. This 
is neither from unjust institutions nor from unfair taxation ; 


it is a normal result of increased population. It is in- 
evitable on an island sensibly limited in size ; for to 
produce as much human food as one acre of cultivated 
land will yield, three or even four acres of grazing land 
are needed. 

That era had its own disadvantages. The cattle had 
then little winter food ; they were killed and salted 
down in the close of autumn. Much salt meat and 
salt fish were eaten, and fresh vegetables were few in 
species and scarce. Parsnips are said to have been long 
the only root, before there were turnips and carrots ; 
potatoes, we know, came in from America. Native fruit 
was very limited, and our climate was thought hardly 
capable of bearing more sorts ; foreign fruit was not in 
the market. Now what I want to point out is this : that 
the diet of flesh-meat belongs to the time of barbarism — 
the time of low cultivation and thin population ; and that /'/ 
naturally^ normally decreases with higher cultivation. 

We see the same thing in ancient civilization and 
modern. The Brahmins in India, who stood at the head 
in intellect and in beauty, were wholly or prevalently vege- 
tarians. I believe, much the same was true of ancient 
Egypt Men of lower caste ate flesh, and the lowest most, 
and among these principally foul diseases of the skin 
prevailed ; no doubt, because where population is dense, 
the poorer classes, if they eat flesh-meat at all, are sure 
to get a sensible portion of their supply diseased and 

What is the true test of anything being natural to 
man ? He is a progressive being ; you must test it by 
his more mature, not by his immature era ; by his 
civilization, not by his barbarism. Flesh-meat helped 
him through his less developed state; it then existed 
around him in superfluity, while vegetarian food was 


scarce ; moreover, the beasts slain for food were then 
generally in a natural and healthy condition. But to 
attempt to keep up in the latter and more developed 
stage the habits of the earlier and ruder is in many 
ways pernicious. At first each man kills his own game, 
or slaughters a beast of his own flock ; and long after 
that time is passed, the animals wander in the field 
or mountain or under the forest. The pig eats beech- 
nuts and oak-mast and horse-chestnuts. The steer 
browses on soft leaves and on grass. There is no stuffing 
with oilcake, no stall-feeding nor indoor life. The beast 
of the field abides in the field. When the herds abound, 
and the supply is easily adequate to the human popula- 
tion, the market is not likely to be tampered with. 
Neither roguery, nor artificial management of the animal 
is to be feared. Great Oriental communities put the 
slaughter of cattle for food under religious regulation. 

With the Jews, and, indeed, with the earliest Romans, 
the butcher was a priest ; and anxious distinctions were 
made of clean and unclean beasts, to exclude the eating 
of such flesh as either was supposed to be unwholesome 
or was forbidden for some economic reason. Now, in 
fact — owing, as I believe, to the great pressure for milk 
in a populous nation — the cow is of a peculiarly feeble 
constitution with us. This is manifest in her liability to 
suffer severely in calving, which is certainly a striking 
phenomenon. But surely it is only what might be ex- 
pected from the very artificial and unnatural demand 
that we make on her, to give us milk in quantity far 
beyond anything needed for her -calf and for a length of 
time so prolonged. So intimate is the relation of calving 
to milk-giving, that to overstrain one side of the female 
system must naturally derange the other. But to this is 
added stall-feeding and cramming, instead of the open 


field and natural herbage. Tholigh these practices may 
save money to the grazier and produce more pounds of 
meat and of unhealthy fat, they cannot conduce to the 
robustness of the animal, nor of the man who eats it. 

A worse thing is now revealed. I lately read that 
many farmers believe that they have found out the cause 
of what is called the foot-and-mouth disease — namely, 
they ascribe it to the fact that the animals are bred 
from parents too young. Now I lay no stress on their 
opinion. This may be erroneous. But they cannot be 
mistaken in what they state as a fact — namely, that in 
eagerness to supply the meat-market, and gain the 
utmost return to their capital, they artificially bring 
about a premature breeding of cattle. The moment 
it is mentioned, one sees what the temptation must be 
to a breeder ; one sees also, that the offspring is sure 
to be feeble, and therefore liable to any or every disease. 
It is well known that in Bengal, for religious reasons, the 
Brahmin girls are prevalently married at a very tender 
age, so that great numbers of mothers are hardly more 
than children themselves ; and to this is ascribed the 
peculiar delicacy and frequent small stature in such 
classes. I do not assume that such offspring need be 
unhealthy ; but unless protected as only men can be 
protected, if exposed as cattle must be exposed, one 
must expect them to catch any epidemic that may be 
abroad, and more and more to propagate feebleness. 

Municipal law struggles in vain against such tricks of 
the market. They go on for many years without the 
persons who practise them being aware of their harm. 
Prohibitions are hard to execute ; they are sure to come too 
late, and after they are enacted, some new artifice, equally 
bad, grows up. While the pressure for flesh-meat is great, 
unless the Government will take into its own hands 


both the slaughtering and the sales, it seems impossible 
to keep the trade under control. 

The United States have a vast abundance of soil, a 
very thin population ; hence they might, like our ances- 
tors, have flesh-meat and milk of a natural kind. But 
they have large towns, to be fed on a great scale by 
enterprizing capitalists ; so that many of the same evils 
grow up among them as with us. In New York a dis- 
tiller of spirits added to this trade the trade of cowkeep- 
ing, having learned that cows, fed upon the refuse grains 
of a distillery, give more milL This is true, but then 
the milk is inferior in quality, and the cows gradually 
become diseased — whether by the food, or by the un- 
wholesome confinement in the cellars beneath the 
distillery, I cannot say. But the complaints of the milk 
are bitter; moreover the cowkeepers in the country 
around have followed the evil example ; and it is posi- 
tively stated that the mortality of children in New York 
is enormous, which is a suspicious coincidence. These 
are but single instances and illustrations of the evils to 
which we are exposed from the tampering of the grazier 
with the animals in whose flesh or milk he deals. 

But I return to my point. With the progress of 
population Vegetarianism naturally increases. I do not 
say which is cause and which is effect ; they react on 
one another. When more food is wanted, and the price 
of corn rises, there is a motive to break up new land. 
Pasture is diminished. Perhaps by artificial grasses and 
by cultivation of roots the quantity of cattle is neverthe- 
less sustained ; yet if the process goes on, as in China 
(for an extreme case), the larger cattle will not at all 
increase in proportion to the population. Nor in- 
deed among ourselves has it increased proportionally, 
f he English roast beef that foreigners talk of is rarely 



indeed the diet of our villagers. Thirty years ago 
even our town artizans ate little fresh meat Bacon, 
principally fat, was nearly the sole animal food consumed 
by our peasants, whose state has but little altered. They 
may almost be called vegetarians ; for fat, like oil, supphes 
only animal heat, not the substance of muscle. Never- 
theless, it is now taught that on animal heat vital force 
depends, which muscle will not give. 

Now, lest we should pity our peasants too much, I 
must state that we have the decisive testimony of the 
most eminent scientific men to the sufficiency of a 
purely vegetarian diet, men not themselves vegetarians, 
nor intending to urge the practice. Our society has 
printed a handbill, with extracts from Haller, Liebig, 
Linnaeus, Gassendi, Professor Lawrence, Professor Owen, 
Baron Cuvier, and many others. Hear a few illustra- 
tions how those speak who mean to be our opponents. 
Dr. S. Brown writes : * We are ready to admit that 
vegetarian writers triumphantly prove that physical horse- 
like strength is not only compatible with, but also 
favoured by, a well-chosen diet from the vegetable 
kingdom, and likewise that such a table is conducive to 
length of days.' Dr. W. B. Carpenter writes : * We 
freely concede to the advocates of Vegetarianism, that as 
regards the endurance of physical labour there is ample 
proof of the capacity of [their diet] to afford the requisite 
sustenance.' He adds that if sufficiently oily, 'it will 
maintain the powers of the body at their highest natural 
elevation, even under exposure to extreme cold.' 

Thus the labourer, according to these high authorities, 
is not at all dependent on flesh-meat. And of this we 
have abundant proof in foreign nations. We have no 
stronger men among our flesh-dieted * navvies' than the 
African negroes of the United States, who were chiefly 




fed, while slaves, on yams, maize, and other vegetable 
food. We perhaps cannot anywhere produce a class of 
men to equal the porters of Constantinople. The London 
Spectator^ not long back (though it is anything but 
vegetarian in purpose) wondered at the ignorance of men 
who doubted whether vegetarian food was compatible 
with the greatest strength ; for, a Constantinople porter 
(said the writer) would not only easily carry the load of 
an English porter, but would carry off the man besides 
Mr. Winwood Reade, a surgeon who has travelled 
much in Africa, Mr. A. F. Kennedy, once Governor of 
Sierra Leone, and Captain P. Eardley Wilmot, attest that 
the Kroomen of Western Africa are eminent in endure 
ance. Mr. Kennedy says, * their power and endurance 
exceeds that of any race with which I am acquainted.' 
Mr. Winwood Reade expresses himself even more 
pointedly. *The Kroomen are, I believe, the strongest 
men in the world.' Yet the Krooman, he adds, lives on 
a few handfuls of rice per day ; and rice has not been 
supposed by our chemists to be at all favourable to 
human strength. They depreciated it, as giving too 
great a proportion of animal heat ; but they did not 
know that animal heat gives vital force also. 

It may be said that these cases belong to hot climates ; 
but indeed Constantinople can be anything but hot. And 
we can further appeal to northern Persia, where the winter 
is intensely cold. The English officers at Tabriz, the 
northern capital — who for a long series of years had the 
drilling of Persian troops — were enthusiastic in their 
praises, and testified that they make the longest marches 
on nothing but bread, cheese, and water, carrying three 
or four days' provision in their sash. These, however, 
are not strictly Persians, but of Turkoman race. I did 
not need to go to Persia for illustration, The Italians 

D 2 


of the north or anywhere on the Apennines would have 
served my argument. Bread, with figs or raisins, are 
their sufficient food ; and they were old Napoleon's 
hardiest soldiers round Moscow. Indeed, in every 
civilized country the strongest class of men are the 
peasants, who are everywhere all but vegetarians. Dr. 
Edward Smith, who reported to the Privy Council on the 
food of the three kingdoms, came to the conclusion that 
the Irish are the strongest, next to them the Scotch, next 
the northern English ; after them the southern peasants, 
lowest of all, the townsman observe : their Vegetarianism 
is graduated in the same way, the strongest being the 
most vegetarian, and the townsfolk who are weakest, 
being the greatest eaters of flesh. I do not mean to 
£ssert that diet is the only cause of strength or weak- 
ness ; it is sufficient to insist that Vegetarianism is 
compatible with the highest strength. The old Greek 
athlete was a vegetarian. Hercules, according to their 
comic poets, lived chiefly on pease pudding. 

But what of health ? The testimony of scientific men 
is here still more remarkable. Haller, the great physio- 
logist, writes : * This food, then, in which flesh has no 
part, is salutary, inasmuch as it fully nourishes a man, 
protracts life to an advanced period, and prevents or 
cures such disorders as are attributable to the acrimony 
or grossness of the blood.' That eminent physician. Dr. 
Cheyne, of Bath, declared : ^ For those who are extremely 
broken down with chronic disease I have found no other 
relief than a total abstinence from all animal food, and 
from all sorts of strong and fermented liquors. In about 
thirty years' practice, in which I have (in some degree or 
other) advised this method in proper cases, I have had 
but two cases in whose total recovery I have been mis- 
taken.' A remarkable instance is that of Professor 


Fergusson, the historian — who, at the age of sixty-one, 
had a dangerous attack of paralysis. He called in his 
friend Dr. Black, the celebrated discoverer of latent 
heat. Dr. Black, though not a vegetarian, prescribed 
total abstinence from flesh-meat. Professor Fergusson 
obeyed, and not only recovered entirely and never had a 
second attack, but was a remarkably vigorous old man at 
ninety, and died at ninety-three. 

In such cases I think we have an explanation of the 
success of some things called quack remedies — as ih^ grape 
cure of the Germans. I am ready to believe that it is not 
so much the grapes that cure as the abstinence from a gross 
and evil diet. Dr. A. P. Buchan teaches that a diet of 
farinacea, with milk and fruits, is the most hopeful way of 
curing pulmonary consumption ; many examples of such 
cure in an early stage of the disease, says he, are recorded. 
He adds : * If vegetables and milk were more used in 
diet, we should have less scurvy, and likewise fewer 
putrid and inflammatory fevers.' Drs. Craigie and Cullen 
are very strong as to the power of Vegetarianism to 
preserve one from gout. Dr. Marcet, Oliver, and other 
physiologists declare that human chyle, elaborated from 
flesh-meat, putrefies in three or four days at longest, while 
chyle from vegetable food, from its greater purity and 
more perfect vitality, may be kept for many days without 
becoming putrid. 

We need not, therefore, wonder that vegetarians 
are so little liable to fever, or to any form of putrid 
disease. It is asserted, indeed, that in England and 
America no vegetarian has been known to suffer from 
cholera. On the other hand, it is also asserted that 
none but vegetarians have attained the age of a hun- 
dred ; undoubtedly a viaiority of centenarians have held 
to this diet. 


Now I know some persons will answer quickly, * I do 
not want to live to a hundred/ But remember, I pray you, 
what such longevity implies. The man who lives to a 
hundred is generally as strong at eighty, and as perfect in 
all his faculties, as are the majority of men at sixty-five, 
and he is not so much worn out at ninety as the man 
who lives to eighty-two or eighty-three is at eighty. It 
is not the last seven years of the centenarian which give 
him advantage, but the twenty years which precede these 
seven. However, wish what we please about long life ; 
it remains, that long life, if it exist in a class of men, 
implies that that class excels in vital force, is superior 
therefore in health, probably in strength, and health is 
more valuable than strength. Once more, reflect what is 
contained in the avowal that pulmonary consumption is 
best treated, and is sometimes cured, by abstinence from 
flesh-meat and wine. Consumption is notoriously a 
disease of weakness. Hence we must infer that more 
strength is given by vegetarian diet than by that which is 
called stimulating. 

All the arguments converge to the same point. Vital 
force is measured by length of life, and by power of 
recovering from dangerous wounds. Vegetarianism 
conduces at once to length of life and to success 
in such recovery. I have mentioned that Dr. Cheyne 
and Dr. Black trusted in it as a recipe when the con- 
stitution was broken down ; how much more must it 
be a preservative of strength to the healthy ? Dr. S. 
Nicolls, of the Longford Fever Hospital, wrote in 1864, 
after sixteen years' experience in the hospital, that the 
success of treatment by a total withdrawal of flesh-meat 
and of alcoholic liquors gave him the greatest satisfaction. 
The long and short is, that whatever is inflammatory is 
weakening ; the highest vigour is got out of that food 


and drink which gives the maximum of nutrition and the 
minimum of inflammation. We allow ourselves to be 
cheated by calling inflammation stimulus. Further, I 
will ask : Of the English race, what portion is most 
unhealthy ? Beyond question, the English of the United 
States. And they are also the greatest flesh-eaters. 

Now let me add a word concerning the North Ameri- 
can Indian. It is long since a few of the tribes introduced 
the cultivation of maize, ascribed to Hiawatha in Long- 
fellow's poem. The Cherokees adopted an agricultural 
life while in Georgia ; but the distant and the roaming 
tribes continue to depend on hunting, and even their girls 
and boys must live chiefly on flesh. How solid is the 
national constitution is strikingly shown in the strength of 
the women, who, in the joumeyings of a tribe, if visited 
by child-birth, need but half-a-day's rest, and then start 
on the march, with the infant on the mother's back. 
The late well-known Mrs. Lydia Maria Child detailed how 
an Indian woman trudged to Mrs. Child's house through 
many miles of deep snow, and next day came the same 
journey carrying an infant which she had brought to 
light in the interval. The vigour and activity of the 
Indian continues unimpaired till within a short time 
(perhaps a fortnight) of natural death, when he is made 
aware of weakness and death approaching. 

Now some one might quote these facts as a testimony 
to the value of a flesh diet ; but against it there are 
two drawbacks. If disease arise in an Indian, it is apt 
to be exceedingly violent ; small-pox may carry off" a 
whole tribe. Further, no one attributes to them peculiarly 
long hfe. They are said to die worn out at eighty. I 
do not speak confidently, for it is hard to be sure of 
facts. Yet I believe they are less long-lived, and recover 
worse from disease than the vegetarian Africans dwelling 


on the same land ; less long-lived also than the Arabs, 
who live more on milk and less on meat. On the whole, 
I think that life in the open air, a cautious choice of 
healthy places for encamping, and consequent purity of 
blood, gives to those men and women their great robust- 
ness. All food comes alike to such stomachs, as regards 
its power of nourishing ; but if the flesh-meat produces 
a more inflammable habit, it shortens natural life, as well 
as intensities disease. 

So far the attempt to develop facts. It remains to 
draw my conclusion. I first have to insist that ever since 
1847 we have been striving to reverse the natural current 
of affairs — an enterprize which will necessarily entail 
disease and a vast train of calamity. Within the first half 
of this century, the population of the three kingdoms more 
than doubled itself in spite of emigration. Great areas of 
land were broken up for cultivation, partly under the allure- 
ments of a high price for corn, partly to take advantage of 
the Tithe Commutation Act. But after the abolition of 
the Com Laws in 1847, the increased prosperity of the 
manufacturing towns led, not only to an importation of 
corn, but also to a remarkable demand of the artizan 
population for flesh-meat. Cattle were brought from 
abroad in great numbers. Prices still went up. A great 
stimulus was given to cattle-breeding. The markets of 
England were supplied from Scotland and Ireland as well 
as from foreign ports, until in Ireland land was thrown 
out of culture and taken up for grazing. The clamour 
for flesh continuing, we bring it from Australia and South 
America, artificially preserved. From importing instead 
of raising food, our worst evils are increased. Rustic 
industry is not developed. The new births of the country 
find no employment there, and flock into towns. Masses 
of population become liable to starvation from a dis- 


placement of foreign markets, or from the imprudence 
of their employers ; and where personal prudence has less 
reward, improvidence prevails. Town-life is less robust, 
sanitary conditions are harder to fulfil. A nation fed 
from foreign markets suifers convulsion from other 
people's wars. And when more and more the land is 
occupied by large estates, by parks, by wildernesses kept 
for sheep or deer, while huge towns prevail, we have the 
type of national decay. Our statesmen look on helplessly 
while a robust peasantry is supplanted by a feeble and 
unhealthy town population. Our sage sanitarians want 
to bring water to our cities from Welsh, Scotch, or 
Cumberland lakes, for fear we should remember that 
it is as possible for the country to be occupied and culti- 
vated by men as to be grazed by cattle. England will 
not long hold up her head in Europe, if she allow the 
system of empty country and ever-increasing towns to 

There are other causes of the evil, I am aware, 
besides this zeal for flesh-meat. We have to open our 
eyes to more things than one, and a hard battle perhaps 
has to be fought. But in regard to flesh-meat, each 
family has the remedy in its own hands. The waste of 
its resources is caused by an attempt to bring back the 
condition of things belonging to comparative barbarism, 
and make us a flesh- eating nation again, when the era of 
flesh-eating is naturally past. And what is the conse- 
quence ? Where the population is dense^ the poorer classes, 
if they eat flesh-meat at ally are sure to get a sensible portiott 
0/ their supply in an unwholesome state. 

What said Dr. Letheby, inspector of the London 
markets, to the Social Science Association ? * The use of 
unsound meat,' he said, * was more injurious than that of 
any other unsound food. In the three city markets there 


are 400 tons of meat received and sold daily. With a staff 
of but two inspectors it was hardly possible to make a 
sufficient and satisfactory supervision ; nevertheless they 
seized from one to two tons of diseased meat every 
week. The seizures in 1867 amounted to no less than 
288,000 lbs., or 129 tons.' But, he says, in the country at 
large the case is vastly worse. Taking all the markets, 
it had been calculated * that only one part in ^y try five was 
sound.* Now, even if this statement were exaggerated, 
yet how very bad the case must be to allow of its being 
made ! If instead of one-fifth of the meat being unwhole- 
some it were every day one-fiftieth^ the case would be awful 
enough. Remember, that where one ton is condemned, 
there is sure to be a margin of three tons which is 
suspected, but cannot be condemned, and importers or 
graziers, to save themselves from loss, are driven to 
disguise disease as well as they can. This suspected 
meat is sold at half-price, and by its cheapness attracts 
the poor. 

Hence disease is certain. Small-pox has surprized us 
by virulent outbursts; yet what reason is there for surprize ? 
Do not Pariahs in India, and a like class in Egypt, by eating 
flesh or fish in an unwholesome state, bring on leprosy and 
small-pox, and other foul contagious diseases ? How do 
our doctors suppose that the small-pox arose for the 
first time? They say it came from China, and that it cannot 
come to us unless we catch it from a human being. Was 
ever anything so imbecile ? The first patient did not catch 
it from an earlier patient, but brought it on himself by foul 
diet or some uncleanness ; and of course if any of us 
use the same foulness, he is liable to bring it on himself 
without any one to transmit it to him. Paris is the city 
that cooks up and disguises offal ; Paris can generate 
small-pox as well as China. Our doctors divert us from 


the true scent For fear that we should discover what is 
our uncleanness of living, they tell us that small-pox 
comes because we are not vaccinated. That also is not 
at all true. Indeed, none are oftener vaccinated than 
French soldiers, and no part of the French population 
suffers worse from small-pox than the soldiers. Bad diet 
and unclean herding together must be the cause. Diet ? 
why, if we are to believe our newspapers, they have eaten 
in Paris even the rats from the sewers, not from any 
real deficiency of wholesome food, but from an infatuated 
determination to get flesh-meat. And at the same time, 
the correspondent who praises the flavour of the rat tells 
us that small-pox has broken out again durinjg the siege ; 
and now, says he, in the week ending November 5 the 
deaths from small-pox were 380 ; in the week ending 
November 12 they were 419. 

Perhaps it is needless to say why animals brought to 
market must be diseased. It is not natural to an ox to get 
into a steamer, or into a railway car, nor to walk through 
the streets, nor to take its place quietly as in a pen at the 
market. A great deal of beating and terrifying is needed. 
His fatigue in a long journey — manage it as you will — is 
necessarily great ; he suffers also from thirst. The Cars and 
steamers cannot be cleanly. In short, it would be wonder- 
ful if forty-nine in fifty arrived in tolerable health. So long 
as there is a forced market, cattle brought from a distance 
will be like the miserable Africans carried in slave ships ; 
and all our cattle will be of feeble constitution, liable to 
diseases from shght cause, because bred artificially and 
reared artificially. The poorer classes suffer first and 
inevitably, in the squandering of? their resources ; 
secondly, by disease, and many more by infection from 
the sick. And those who evade disease do not get more 
strength, and do get a somewhat more inflammatory 


habit from the flesh-meat At the same time, by eating 
more expensive food, they cannot afford so healthy 
habitations. Such are the evils on the side of health and 

But besides, the evils of inhumanity in the slaughter of 
larger cattle are very terrible. No one has yet found *a 
remedy for the clumsiness of butchers' boys. I cannot 
now dwell on this actually painful part of my subject ; I 
can only say it quite reconciles me to be called a Brahmin. 
At the same time, recurring to the inconsistency of milk 
and eggs with strict Vegetarianism, I will observe that, 
by the avowal of medical science, milk has none of the 
inflammatory properties of flesh-meat ; in so far it is akin 
to vegetarian food. But undoubtedly the pressure of 
dense population for milk is an evil, and tends to the 
adulteration of the milk, to a deterioration of it by giving 
to the cow whatever will increase its quantity, and to an 
enfeebling of cows generally, by asking too much milk of 
them, and by breeding them too quickly. Therefore I 
take pains to make no increased use of milk since I am a 
vegetarian, nor yet of eggs. We have not yet learned to 
get substitutes from oleaginous nuts. We are in a state 
of transition. A future age will look back on this as 
barbarism; yet we are moving towards the higher and 
nobler development in becoming even thus partial 

Finally, I must not omit one topic, the evils of over- 
feeding which flesh-eating induces. A vegetarian may 
eat too much, yet it is more difficult to him from the 
bulk of his food; nearly all over-feeding is practically 
caused by flesh, fish, and fowl. The late witty Sydney 
Smith, wishing to reprove this vice, jocosely said : * As 
accurately as I can calculate, between the ages of ten 
and seventy I have eaten forty-four waggon-loads of food 


more than was good for me/ .Every ounce that a man 
eats more than he needs positively weakens him, for his 
vegetable forces use up his energy in getting rid of the 
needless food. The gormandizing in great towns is de- 
spicable from one side, but from another is afflicting, 
when one thinks of the endless disease engendered in 
the classes who eat too much, while so many have too 
little. Yet to the poorer a far worse evil than the privation 
of flesh is, that they are incited to long for it when they 
see all who can afford it pay any price rather than go 
without it. Our working classes will not attain the eleva- 
tion which is possible to them until they put on the senti- 
ment of Brahmins, and look down upon flesh-eating as a 
lower state. 


When the nam 
casually before 
generally regan 
deny that whili 
I thought it a s 
cannot be surp 
then was, so re; 
scornful questi 
'What « the uf 
the true and 
whatever.' No 
of asking some 
thing as cattle 
meat in the m 
among foul eati 
meat becoming 
ruinously dear i 
are familiar to ; 
ever reflect on 
that m 
irst att 


The easiest question to answer is — What is the cause 
of the high price of butcher's meat ? The reply is — An 
enormous increase of demand. The whole series of 
events is within the easy memory of those who are no 
longer young, yet may need to be shortly recapitulated to 
the new generation. I will first remark, that any great 
murrain in cattle (however caused) would naturally be 
followed by an increased price of meat. I do not over- 
look this, when I refer to the increase of demand as the 
main and steady cause of the rise in price. In fact this 
was distinctly predicted, by far-seeing economists in 1846 
and previous years, during the contest for the abolition of 
the old Corn Laws. The late (Jeneral Perronet Thompson 
illustrated popularly his economic prediction, by saying : 
'When, through the cheapening of bread, a man finds he 
has an unexpected sixpence in his pocket, he is very apt 
to want a mutton-chop,' On this ground he foretold that 
the abolition of the Com Laws would make the artizans 
eat, not more bread, but more butcher's meat, and that 
the price of such meat would rise. Accordingly, he and 
Colonel Torrens prophesied that the farmers would 
become enriched by the sale of agricultural luxuries, in 
proportion as the one agricultural necessary (bread) became 
chpjinrr , f.^, ™-,^t ^an:™., =,.„o^ts^ that bread would 
act, it has only 
ts indefinite rise 
ork, rather than 
able to demand 
1 was a marked 
ireign cattle for 
increase thence- 
railway system 
by a fall in the 
:d rural districts, 


At length it became worth while to turn Irish arable land 
into grazing, for the production of more cattle. This 
must be the tendency everjrwhere, at a certain point of 
price, if butcher's meat go up, or bread go down ; for land 
is husbanded, not for the cultivator's mouth, but for his 
purse (or what here amounts to the same, for the land- 
lord's purse) ; hence, unless our present career be checked, 
we have a very dreary prospect before us. 

In approaching a second question. What are the 
causes of cattle murrain ? I may seem ambitious and 
imprudent in attempting an answer. Of course there 
are many possible causes of epidemic disease, few of them 
visible to us ; but if some circumstances, which we 
familiarly know to exist, must tend to cause such disease, 
and others to spread it, mere prudence commands us to 
avoid such a combination of facts, if we look on the 
disease as alarming. And first, all conveyance of cattle 
on a great scale to distant markets entails disease. We 
have left far behind us the habits of the Irish pig-driver, 
who so prized every pig of his herd, that he proportioned 
their marches to the strength of the weakest ; watched 
over their wants tenderly ; while he knew every yard of 
his ground, and devoted every thought to bring his 
property to market in prime condition. * The master's 
eye makes the horse fat,' is, I believe, an old saying. 
The pig-driver was the pig-master, and called every single 
pig his * honey.' The case is different, if men have to drive 
cattle not their own, and are bound to arrive at a certain 
moment The poor brutes, transferred from their pleasant 
pastures, know not whither they are going ; they have no 
relish for a chalky or stony or muddy highway, for the 
streets of a town, for entrance or exit of a steamboat. 
Many a wild scamper down a wrong street is taken, to 
the anger of the driver. Much beating, much terrifying, 


much fatigue is caused to some. Time is lost, and all 
must be hurried. In the streets of London, and still 
worse, in old Smithfield market, we used to see cattle 
beaten about the head by impatient drivers, perhaps igno- 
rant lads ; but the thing is inevitable, when a whole army 
of them is to be marshalled in a short time. One may 
see on Scotch steamers how roughly sheep must be 
treated to hand them up and down steep inclines. If 
animals travel on their feet, they have, besides the fatigue 
of walking, many such untoward events as I have denoted. 
On board of steamers, or in railway cars, they are crammed 
together, often most painfully, some of them in fatiguing 
postures. Many of them on the railway are tied by the 
horns, and often struggle against their bonds. In the 
great murrain year, I was told by a grazier who was ac- 
companying cattle on a rail, that the cars vacated by one 
set were occupied by another without cleansing, and he, 
for one, did not know how the cattle escaped disease so 

It is all but universal with English reasoners (whether 
peculiar to us as a nation, I do not know), to disbelieve 
the possibility that contagious disease is engendered by 
ourselves. The guilt of it is always laid on the foreigner. 
Unlucky foreigners, how do they get it ? Is it a heaven- 
sent curse, uncaused by themselves? If it spring from 
their neglects and bad habits, and we indulge the same 
neglects and the same bad habits, will not they entail on us 
the same murrains of every class ? I have seen the rail- 
way cattle-cars, and shuddered at them, while our legis- 
lators see no danger but from imported cattle. No doubt 
imported cattle must often be in cruel plight. The jolting 
which they endure in a luggage train is bad enough. 
But think what is meant by a storm at sea, with cattle 
on board It is hard to know whether they are worse 



on deck or in the hold, tossed about, banged against one 
another. Sometimes, the partitions giving way, awful 
chaos results ; but in every case the terror of the poor 
animals in so new and unintelligible a position is liable to 
be extreme. To give them food or water, or keep the 
place clean, is impossible ; and in the slighter cases of 
bad weather, if to tie them down be bad, to leave them 
untied is worse. 

When an artizan, on finding an unexpected shilling in 
his pocket, resolves on an additional mutton-chop or beef- 
steak — permit me to exercise an Oriental fancy, and 
suppose him to be addressed by the Genius of the cattle, 
who might speak as follows : — * You desire butcher's 
meat, not understanding how alone it is to be had Your 
England is no longer the England of Henry the Eighth, 
containing five million persons. You have five times 
that number, and the native cattle no longer suffice for 
you. But you have every species of corn in vast abun- 
dance ; you have native crops of potatoes and pulse, of 
fruits and of vegetables far beyond anything here known 
in past ages ; and from richer climes you have ample 
supplies of rice, of sago, of maize and its products, of 
arrowroot, and numerous kinds of dry fruit, on any or all 
of which you can feed and banquet more cheaply than on 
butcher's meat, and be as robust as your father and grand- 
father were. Yet, it seems, nothing will please you but 
beef and mutton. Understand then at what price you 
are to gratify this arbitrary taste. First, you use up your 
slender means, so that you are not a bit the better for 
higher wages. Money which might have given you 
healthier apartments, and saved yourself and family from 
illness ; or if you are already well lodged, might have 
conduced to save your wife from drudgery, or give re- 
finement and cultivation to your children, this you spend 


day by day on the selfish gratification of appetite. 
Next, your flesh-meat will be imported at the expense of 
great suffering to remote herds of cattle. I warn you, 
that many of these innocent sufferers will fall into a 
fevered state, will become victims of disease, will spread 
disease to others, will some of them be eaten perhaps by 
you, will at any rate revenge themselves on the poorer 
flesh-eaters, if even the richer, who can pay indefinitely 
high prices, escape.' 

I am trying to show you how Vegetarianism is related 
to the cattle murrain. In short, it stands thus : In 
lessening their Vegetarianism, the mass of the English 
workmen have powerfully tended to create disease in 
cattle, by hoisting up the prices of meat, and thereby 
causing a demand of the English market on remote 
pastures. Yet this is only one side of the question. 
Strong health resists disease, escapes often even in spite 
of bad habits, much more resists infection from without. 
But weak constitutions fall easily. In a weakly herd any 
epidemic is likely to spread with tenfold rapidity ; who 
will doubt it ? Further, our great increase of demand for 
meat has tended to make our cattle of weaker constitution. 
This is not my discovery ; but when I read it in the letter 
of a cattle-breeder, I at once saw that what he states as 
fact is inevitable. The high price of meat, contingent on 
the increased demand, sets the graziers to breed the cattle 
as fast as they can ; and in consequence great numbers 
are hoxnfrom immature parents. The animals thus born 
are not necessarily unhealthy ; but they are delicate, not 
robust ; and if exposed, as cattle must be exposed, they 
are far more liable to catch any or every disease that may 
be abroad, than those unforced. Indeed, the whole 
system of stall-feeding, and confinement, and cramming, 
being essentially artificial, tends further to weaken the 

£ 2 


whole species, weakened probably already by our exces- 
sive demand for milk. 

Do we now understand what is the use of Vegetarian- 
ism ? One reply is, it is useful to arrest a scourge which 
has punished us increasingly since 1848, and is likely to 
punish us more — contagious disease in cattle and in men. 
But I have not sufficiently insisted on the continuity of 
the evil In certain years we have special alarm about 
cattle murrain or small-pox. It must not be supposed 
that in other years we are free. I will not here insist on 
the frightful statements made by curious inquirers con- 
cerning the parasitical worms infesting pork, and in spite 
of cookery (it is said) propagating themselves in pork- 
eaters. To speak frankly, I think there must be exaggera- 
tion here, else we should be in a far more wretched plight 
than we are. Nevertheless, that much unhealthy pork is 
eaten by the poor cannot be doubted ; and it was from 
the extreme danger of this, that ancient Oriental legislators 
were severe against pork-flesh. It is not the wild swine 
which are feared. The modern Arabs have no horror of 
the flesh of the wild boar. It is the artificially nurtured 
pig, which is feared ; the pig fed upon ofial, or picking 
up around the habitations of men whatever he can. So 
the swine which feed in the forests of thinly-peopled 
countries may be as sound as the wholly wild animal. 

We are no longer in that position. In all our great cities 
it is necessary to take precautions for excluding diseased 
meat from the markets, not in specially dangerous years, 
but every year, every week. The competition of trade 
forces every tradesman to count on a moderate percent- 
age ; he might as well not enter the trade at all, as not 
get his requisite profit. Competition beats down the 
estimate, so that he has no great margin for loss ; hence 
it must be with the utmost reluctance that he consents to 


regard an animal as unsound and unsaleable. What are 
the agreements between the real proprietors and the 
agents or drovers, does not signify ; for it is clear that 
the subordinates must try to reduce the proprietors* loss 
and their own responsibility to the lowest point. As a 
fact, the pressure of bad meat into the market has to be 
resisted by the most stringent efforts, and punished 
severely. Thousands of tons are condemned, and all 
know that vast quantities which cannot be condemned 
are suspicious. Much meat is sold at a greatly reduced 
price, certainly because the salesmen are peculiarly eager 
to get rid of it. Who after this can wonder that small- 
pox has increased upon us within the last twenty years ? 
Who can doubt that the mass of our town population 
habitually eats a portion of its flesh-supply in an un- 
wholesome state? No increased stringency of super- 
vision can much abate the evil, while a people is striving 
to eat more sound meat than has come to market ; it is 
striving virtually for the impossible. The only cure lies 
in lessening the demand ; in persuading the masses of 
workmen that their competition for flesh-meat is a folly, 
impoverishing and perhaps infecting them. 

It may be replied that the working classes aire wilful 
and besotted, and of course grasp at every luxury in their 
power. See, it will be said, how recklessly they spend 
their money on beer or gin, or if not on drink, then on 
tobacco- smoking, or perhaps on both. There are many 
exceptions. Nevertheless, I concede, they are a minority. 
I admit and press, that so long as all who are rich enough 
to get an article insist on getting it, the poorer will covet 
it, will count it a luxury, and will often ruin their finance 
by eagerness for it. But this is precisely the reason why 
the richer should set them a different example. * I will 
eat no meat while the world standeth,' said the great 


Apostle, *if it make my brother to offend* If there is 
not enough sound flesh-meat for all, and it be not neces- 
sary for our welfare, why should we, who are richer, rush 
in to clutch at it ? 

But I turn to another side of the subject, hardly less 
important. Just alarm is widely spread concerning a fact 
too broad to be denied — the growth of our towns, and 
the disproportionate emptiness of our country. This is 
everywhere the symptom of progressive national decay. 
The Roman poet Horace saw it already before his eyes 
in Italy. Small freeholds had become rare. On the 
great estates were beautiful villas, splendid parks culti- 
vated for elegance, not for service. The fruit tree was 
* evicted ' (to use his phrase) by the barren tree. The 
towns were full and the country empty. Grazing super- 
seded agriculture ; cattle took the place of robust free- 
men, and were tended by a sparse population of slaves. 
A Gaulish chieftain, soon after, in urging his countrymen 
to revolt against Rome, used the argument, * Italy is poor 
in men,' and Pliny echoed it in the utterance, ' Broad 
estates have ruined Italy.' In modern Turkey we have 
the same deplorable phenomenon, from widely different 
causes — well filled towns and empty country. The 
historian Sismondi attests that it characterized every 
land, which was in its turn ruined by the Roman empire. 
No impartial and well-informed person can look on Great 
Britain without discerning the same alarming phenomenon 
in contrasting our rural districts with our towns. The 
• country places do not support their own births; the 
rustic population flock to the towns. 

Now I am not about to say that this is directly caused 
by flesh-eating ; it undoubtedly depends on circumstances 
of landed tenure, which cannot here be treated. Never- 
theless, the evils are aggravated by the demand of the 


wealthy towns for cattle and their products; this fact 
alone makes it worth a landlord's while to keep arable 
land in pasture. If the towns renounced flesh-eating we 
should see in a single generation, even without improved 
land tenure, a tide of migration set the other way — from 
towns into the country. Rustic industry would be im- 
mensely developed. All motive for expatriation of our 
robustest youth would, for a long time yet, be removed, 
and the country might be enormously enriched, not in 
an upper stratum of great fortunes, but (if national 
morality kept pace with wealth) dowo to the bottom of 
the community. Our strength is proportioned to the 
number of our industrious and loyal citizens. The 
country would then bear a great increase of population 
without effort ; for it is certain that ordinary arable land 
will produce easily four times as much human food as 
the same land devoted to grazing. Of course there is 
land where the soil barely covers the rock — where a 
plough cannot be driven, or where mere steepness 
forbids — on which, nevertheless, grass can grow. No 
one wishes to get rid of all grazing land. But where the 
soil has moderate depth cultivation improves it, if there 
be but enough labourers. The area for which twenty 
men suffice to tend oxen grazing on it might need the 
labour of a thousand (including rustic artizans) if it were 
duly laid out for crops. I do not forget or dissemble 
that a large part of cattle food, especially the winter 
supply, is provided by cultivation, as beans and oats 
for horses, turnips and other roots for sheep and oxen. 
Still, the movement towards Vegetarianism would be a 
movement for native cultivation and rustic industry. 

I count confidently on public sympathy when I say 
that it is a depraving tendency, sadly common with 
English lads, to desire to kill a beautiful animal the 


moment they see it. That the first thought on discover- 
ing a new creature should be * Is it nice to eat ? ' is to me 
shocking and debasing. What is called the love of sport 
has become a love of killing for the display of skill, and 
converts man into the tyrant of all other animals ; yet 
this rose out of a desire of eating their flesh — a desire 
which cannot be blamed in that state of barbarism in 
which little other food was to be had. But when with 
the growth of civilization other food is easier to get, 
when bread has won upon flesh-meat, it is evil to struggle 
for the more barbarous state. Does not the love of flesh 
inflame the love of killing, teach disregard for animal 
suffering, and prepare men for ferocity against men ? I 
think so. It is possible to carry too far the reluctance of 
the Turk and the Brahmin to take brute life ; yet how 
can any humane person deny that they can teach the 
English nation some valuable lessons ? I find it good to 
rejoice in the grandeur of a stag and the beauty of a 
pheasant. Any good girl would be more delighted that 
the stag should conie to eat out of her hand than that 
she should be promised a piece of venison to eat. Surely 
the reciprocation of kind feeling between man and the 
wild animal is a very pure delight, and it is so universal 
to children that I certainly cannot claim any merit in 
feeling it. The late Charles Darwin tells that when 
ships of his expedition touched at the Galipago Islands 
he found nearly all the birds and beasts tame from their 
unacquaintance with human violence. A hawk would 
not stir till pushed off* the branch of a tree. The birds 
settled on the edges of buckets to drink the water which 
the sailors were carrying. A boy sat by the side of a 
spring with a stick in his hand, and with it killed the 
little birds which came to drink without fear of him, until 
he had enough of them for his dinner. 


How cruel and shocking ! Who of us would not re 
gard such an island as a little Paradise ? Who would not 
willingly give up the eating of birds if he could thereby 
purchase the universal confidence of the feathered race, 
and live in the midst of them as their friend ? Barbarous 
mail, struggling for existence, must be harsh, cruel, 
treacherous to beasts ; but is it not high time to throw 
off the sentiments of barbarous ages, or, rather, to forbid 
those traditional habits from depraving the tenderer 
wisdom which our children so often display ? What un- 
corrupted child on seeing a beautiful bird, or a lamb, or 
a calf, would wish it killed to enjoy dining on it ? Un- 
doubtedly the beauty of the creature, with the delight of 
seeing it alive, is the main reason for pity in the thought 
of its death ; yet we may be certain that the principle 
here involved cannot be halved for the benefit of the 
beautiful and to the neglect of the uglier. None of us 
grieve if fewer swine are alive to-day than yesterday, yet 
as long as men feed even on swine they will feed on 
every creature which yields healthful food. The beautiful 
animals whose trust in us might be a daily delight justly 
dread and shun us. Our hearts are so hardened against 
them that we endure their being mangled by steel traps 
and lingering in excruciating agony. English sport is 
likely to continue, and Christendom to be still called by 
Orientals *The Hell of Animals,' unless wholly new 
principles are adopted. Are we aware into what a mon- 
strosity the love of sport has developed itself, in what 
are called shooting-grounds, especially in Scotland ? All 
human inhabitants are removed from wide areas of land, 
on which none but gamekeepers are ordinarily allowed 
to tread ; it is reserved for game — for deer principally, 
and grouse. Why ? In order to let it out for rent in 
the shooting-season to some rich man of the south — say. 


a Manchester or Birmingham manufacturer, who, for the 
pleasure of shooting two or three months in the year, will 
pay a higher rent than the landlord calculates he can get 
from human inhabitants. I do not stop to argue the 
question of law and right between man and man, between 
landlords and the nation, here involved ; but I insist that, 
if we were a vegetarian nation, the whole thing would be 
impossible. It is true that cockney sportsmen shoot at 
sparrows and seagulls, and at anything else that they 
dare, to try their skill ; but this could not be attempted 
on any great scale without causing a violent revulsion of 
feeling. Indeed, already we have laws for the partial 
protection of sea-birds, which are not human food. 
Nothing but the fact that deer and grouse, are eaten 
makes shooting-grounds, as a system, at all endurable to 
the conscience of the nation. 

Let us turn to another topic. The young son of a 
friend of mine, in summer, took a walking tour in North 
Germany, in the beautiful country called Thuringia. On 
his return he was asked what had most struck him as 
unlike England. He replied the great abundance of fruit 
trees, and of fruit growing on the roadside and along the 
open paths, no one seeming to fear that it would be 
stolen. Of course I am not able to account this a 
triumph of Vegetarianism as a principle, yet it has some- 
thing to do with Vegetarianism as a practice. The small 
German freeholders, like the English and Irish peasants, 
though in no respect averse to flesh-eating, in fact live 
chiefly on farinaceous food, pulse, and jams. I believe 
that the abundance of fruit, and the abstinence from theft, 
depends largely on the system of small freeholds. It is 
worth men's while to plant fruit trees, when the planter 
or his children enjoy the fruit. When property in fruit 
is widely diffused the masses of the nation respect it; 


children early learn from their parents a reverence for 
their neighbour's fruit ; at the same time its abundance 
and cheapness hinders covetous desire. 

I dp not believe that we can attain that state of things 
without vast changes, both in land tenure and in public 
opinion, concerning rights in land. But I believe that 
vegetarian sentiment will add healthy impetus to wise 
and just views on the whole subject. How few of us now 
grieve that only barren trees are * planted on soil and in 
situations where fruit trees would grow as easily ! A 
wealthy squire wants shelter for his house ; what does he 
plant ? Anything rather than fruit trees. Scrubby oak, 
larch, fir. He does not think of apples, pears, cherries ; 
he plants beech, or ash, or elm, rather than walnuts or 
mulberries, horse-chestnuts rather than sweet chestnuts. 
Why? Because, if he dared to plant fruit, his hedges 
and walls would be broken to steal it, and he would 
have no end of trouble. Thus through the immorality 
of the poor the market is starved, and the poor them- 
selves are the chief sufferers. Their habit of pilfering 
has risen out of a sense that a landlord's legal rights are 
excessive and unjust. 

To get out of this evil tangle is very difficult. But 
every vegetarian desires a little garden of his own, and 
fruit bushes or fruit trees of his own ; and ev6ry pro- 
prietor, however small, imbibes respect for his own form 
of property. Every vegetarian believes that orchards 
ought to abound over the land ; that whole fields should 
be devoted to apples and pears, and that the price of 
such fruit might be indefinitely reduced. We certainly 
do not yet know the capacity of our climate. There is 
little chance, while large market gardeners have every- 
thing in their hands, that they will cultivate even vege- 
tables which are not already universally known, however • 


prized by individuals. Vegetables introduced by German 
residents of Manchester, which flourish excellently in our 
climate, the great caterers for the market will not grow, 
fearing the risk of the public not liking them. Even the 
German pea, with a tender eatable pod, no one can buy 
in the English market. There is certainly a great work 
for some one in teaching the English nation what is good 
in new fruits and new vegetables ; I do not mean good 
in flavour merely, but every way beneficial as diet. Yet 
apparently, while this craving after flesh continues, there 
is little chance that the wealth of the soil will be deve- 
loped, or the millions earn that independence and dignity 
of labour which is possible. 

Thus far I have urged the dangers of disease from 
butcher's meat, the waste of humble men's resources in 
the effort to get it, the evil of converting arable land into 
grazing, the debasing tendency of loving to kill game, and 
the neglect of fruits and vegetables, for which our climate 
and soil are suited. I have said nothing of fish. It is 
true that the economic objections to butcher's meat do 
not apply against fish from the sea, nor is the moral 
objection to killing them equal to that against killing 
birds. Fish do not displace crops on the soil, and are a 
real addition to the food of a nation. But, except on the 
sea-coast, fish on the average is dearer than mutton — I 
believe I may say far dearer, and has less nourishment, 
pound for pound. Flabby fish, which is very unnutritious, 
and will not bear transport, is not coveted, and may re- 
main cheap. But the really solid kinds are not cheap 
anywhere, I believe — skate, perhaps, excepted — and are 
in general enormously dear, as turbot and salmon. I do 
not know that a pound of salmon gives more nourish- 
ment than a pound of mutton, even to those who are 
• able to digest it ; hence, until the price of fish is enor- 


mously reduced, it is difficult to say much in their favour 
from the economic side, except so far as they are used as 
condiment, like anchovy, herring, sardines, or even sprats. 
Vegetarians, being desirous of attesting that their strength 
is not supported on fish any more than on beasts and 
fowls, think it right to abstain even from these condi- 
ments ; but it is not likely that they will devote any large 
portion of their zeal to dissuade people from them. 
Rather they will take for granted that those who on the 
whole see reasons for abstinence from flesh will think it 
wiser, in the present state of opinion, when the example 
of every abstainer tells for something, to aim at that com- 
pleteness in a broad principle, which all alike are sure to 

Some may be perhaps disappointed that I do not 
here enter into proofs that farinaceous food suffices for 
strength and health. Indeed, doctrine so opposite is 
sedulously preached that I think it better to refer to 
those who can speak with authority on this question. 
Celebrated physiologists — few of them vegetarians — 
assert that farinaceous food and pulse suffice abundantly 
for strength, and tend eminently to health and long life. 

I therefore content myself with saying that the in- 
habitants of county Kerry and county Cork are by im- 
partial testimony singularly beautiful and strong, though 
nourished on potatoes with, at most, buttermilk ; that the 
Scotch, living on oatmeal, are on the whole stronger and 
healthier than the English ; that the porters and boatmen 
of Turkey equal the strongest navvies of the English rail- 
ways ; and that I am persuaded a general survey of the 
broad facts of the human race show it to be a delusion 
that flesh-meat ever gives to men who labour with body 
or mind any advantage whatever. 

Let me here state the pleasure it gives me to lecture 


on this subject within a Friends' Institute. Friends from 
their origin have emphatically taken as their motto, * Be 
not conformed to this world.' They have espoused the 
most unpopular causes for the sake of truth and justice, 
defying dominant opinion, prevalent practices, fashions, 
and power. They have been foremost against that greatest 
of iniquities now dying out — Chattel Slavery. They have 
championed the rights of woman, and nearly every form 
of mercy. I will not call them our forlorn hope, but in 
apparently the most hopeless assaults on evil they have 
been leaders. No foreign victims of evil so call on them 
now as the most wretched of our own population, who 
cannot, indeed, be raised by any one form of action, but 
only by many combined. And it is simply impossible to 
lift them out of their misery and rottenness, unless they 
are trained to avoid ensnaring drink and expensive eat- 
ing. Vegetarianism is only secondary to abstinence from 
alcoholic liquors in elevating the people. It directly pro- 
motes that gentleness of heart which abhors bloodshed, 
and indirectly that hatred of war for which the Friends 
have always been eminent. 




I WAS led to Study the question of Vegetarianism during 
the first cattle murrain, and approached it on the side of 
political economy and for avoidance of disease among 
the poor. I did not at all believe it could suit me per- 
sonally, yet was ashamed to talk or write in favour of it 
without at least trying it. Upon trial I soon found my 
digestion to improve— carefully rejecting white bread, and 
getting the brownest which was to be had. I had pre- 
viously by medical order eaten flesh-meat regularly twice 
a day, and rather largely. Dinner pills were ordered me 
to assist digestion of so much meat. These I abandoned 
with flesh-food, and have never resumed them. My 
general health is better than I can remember it, nor has 
my enjoyment of food at all lessened. In my seventy- 
eighth year I need neither doctors nor medicine. By 
general testimony the colour of my skin and fulness of 
my cheeks have much improved under this diet, which I 
would now on no account give up, though I adopted it 
with much more of fear than of hope. 

The increased price of flesh-meat has become an 
untractable fact, distressing to the gentry, who cannot 
increase their income, and to thousands of small house- 


holds in our vast trading community. To the artizans 
who have acquired habits of flesh-eating within th^ last 
twenty-five years, it neutralizes the advantage of their 
higher wages, even when they are abstinent or very 
moderate as to intoxicating drinks. Necessarily then the 
whole question of diet is coming forward into fuller dis- 
cussion, and interests thousands who a few years ago 
never gave to it continuous or attentive thought. 

There are three main topics, on one or all of which 
those who assume the name Vegetarian base their absti- 
nence from the flesh of animals : the argument of 
economy (private or national) ; the argument of physi- 
ology — which bears on health, longevity, and even moral 
temperament ; thirdly, the argument from the rights of 
animals. To different minds these arguments bear a 
different scale of importance. Naturally, to statesmen 
the argument of national economy, determining the popu- 
lation which a given area of soil can feed, may seem 
primary ; but with those who, not through poverty, 
abstain from flesh-food, other arguments generally take 
the lead. 

The author of the classical work on * Fruits and 
Farinacea* was brought to renounce flesh-meat from 
being led to study the basis of our rights over the lives 
of animals. He came to the conclusion that without 
decisive and urgent necessity we have no right to deprive 
harmless animals of life ; and on pursuing his inquiry 
further, he convinced himself that to feed on their flesh 
does not conduce to superior health, strength, or lon- 
gevity, but contrariwise. Beginning from this side of the 
subject, he worked out the whole of it, so that at last it 
was hard to say which of the three topics he regarded as 

The late Mr. Joseph Brotherton, long distinguished in 


Parliament as the vegetarian member, and signal for vigour 
in advancing years, certainly gave no practical prominence 
to the economy of Vegetarianism, and was probably 
allured to it like Mr. John Smith, the author of a work 
to which we have just made reference, on what may be 
called the Brahminical side, by the tenderness of his 
nature and his strong sense of universal justice. ^ ^ 

One might gather from the -comments of the public 
prints on the vegetarian festivals of those days, that the 
leading vegetarians some twenty years ago were more 
anxious to. convince rich men what luxurious repasts they 
could give without flesh-food by elaborate cookery, than 
to show-tO:ppor"men-7-and to all who desired to spend as 
little as might be on lower appetite — how simple and 
cheap is a satisfying vegetarian fare. Of course it is 
possible to be as extravagant on one form of cookery as 
another. There is no upper limit. It is only concerning 
the lower limit that there can be available discussion. 

The topic of health and longevity is naturally 
prominent with all yegetarian physicians. Dr. Lambe, 
in the past generation, gave a life-long adhesion to this 
practice, and an enthusiastic advocacy of its excellence. 
Before him. Dr. Cheyne, of Bath, though less consistent 
and thorough-going, gave very, remarkable testimonies, 
especially to the efficacy of vegetarian diet in chronic 
diseases. It must at once appear how many important 
inquiries crowd in, as soon as the relation of diet to the 
health of invalids is touched. While men and women 
are in rude , health and live simply without excess, the 
. stomach digests with seeming indifference a vast variety 
. of food. . Whatever can nourish appears to be healthful, 
and all scruple about the kind of food sounds like 
pedantry or superfluous care. Not so with invalids. 
Not so with those who live a sedentary life— those whp 



disproportionately use the brain — those whose nervous 
system is over-stimulated — those who have no full and 
regular muscular action. In these health cannot be 
robust and rude : and if food less natural to man — that 
is, less completely suited to his organisation — be used, 
one may reasonably expect frequent damage to health 
and some shortening of life unawares. When it is 
manifest how large a fraction of English diseases among 
our middle and upper classes arises from the stomach, 
diet must assume a first-rate importance with physicians ; 
though it is said (probably with truth) that our townsmen 
and our upper classes, and the servants of the rich, suffer 
far more from excess in quantity than from any error in 

With such complexity in the questions concerned, 
there is evidently room for great variety in the details of 
vegetarian practice. We might expect, what indeed we 
find, a few vegetarians rigid in the extreme. The late 
Mr. George Dornbusch, of Threadneedle Street, went 
even beyond Vegetarianism. He not only abstained 
from all the received animal foods — from everything that 
had animal life, and from eggs, milk and its products — 
but from every form of vegetable grease or oil, from the 
chief vegetable spices, such as pepper and ginger, and 
emphatically from salt. The present writer, in a long 
conversation with him, entirely failed of discovering, 
beyond the argument that salt is a mineral, any other 
ground for these abstinences than that they agreed best 
with him. He took only two meals in the day, and 
could boast of unbroken health in very continuous 
business. On one remarkable occasion he was assailed 
in the street by an escaped lunatic, who stabbed him in 
twenty-three places. He went into the first chemist's 
shop, and had his wounds bound up. Loss of blood 


caused him much weakness, forcing him to be absent 
from business for a fortnight ; but he wanted no medical 
advice, nor any drugs : every wound healed easily, and 
he was soon perfectly recovered. Finally, through too 
much trust in the strength of his constitution, he exposed 
himself unwisely to cold when already suffering from 
bronchitis, and the hot bath did not save him from being 
carried off in the midst of vigorous life. 

Another gentleman informed me, that without know- 
ing there was a Vegetarian Society in England, or being 
acquainted with any one who followed their tenets, he 
once lived for three years on fruits only, and is convinced 
that at no time in his life was he so strong ; but he gave 
it up from the inconvenience of the practice. A few 
vegetarians (only a small fraction of those known) abstain 
from milk and eggs as severely as from beast, bird, and 
fish ; some, from the desire to carry a principle through 
so completely as to avoid all cavil ; others, from the con- 
sideration that so long as there is a demand for milk, 
male calves and oxen will be killed for the table and 
probably cows also before they pass middle age. 

Another possible form of abstinence is regarded by 
the Vegetarian Society as far too imperfect to be recog- 
nized at all or to deserve a name ; yet there is no com- 
promise so likely to be widely adopted by our nation as 
that alluded to, viz. : to abstain from quadruped and fowl, 
but to accept fish and marine animals. Inasmuch as no 
pure vegetarians can reasonably hope that a nation long 
accustomed to flesh-meat will collectively change its 
habit, except in a course of several generations, this im- 
perfect form of abstinence might seem to deserve their 
warm encouragement. Fish do not occupy arable land. 
Fish have no family life or family affection. To take one 

life does not torture another. Their multiplication is far 

F 2 


beyond estimate. Our capture of them generally is, and 
ought always to be, painless. If it be admitted to a 
severe vegetarian (what is hard to prove) that to eat a 
fish-dinner once a week somewhat shortens life, yet perhaps 
no vegetarian will assert that the use of the marine 
sauces, or of caviar, or of isinglass, has any such tendency. 
Hence a diet such as poorer men would naturally take, 
resorting to marine products rather as an aid to cookery 
than for the substance of food,- appears to reduce the 
objections of- vegetarians to a minimum. It • may be 
permitted to dwell a little on this topic. 

While on the whole, to any family of the gentry or of 
thriving shopmen, a vegetarian diet which admits milk 
and eggs sparingly may be far cheaper than one into 
which butcher's meat, pork, fowl, and fish freely enter; 
those who are a little poorer find gravy and fats hard 
to dispense with, because of the high price to which all 
good butter is run up, . Suet indeed itself is dear ; good 
oil is dearer ; mustard oil might perhaps be" yery^ cheap, 
and is largely used by the poor in India ; but at present 
bacon-fat, lard, and dripping have strong hold of the 
common imagination. Moreover, such articles as sprats, 
bloaters, herrings, and sauces made of marine animals, 
give either strong taste or oiliness to many forms of food 
which, unless skilfully cooked and seasoned, are judged 

Instinct is quite right in demanding flavour, and a 
fair supply of oleaginous material. The poor, nay the 
whole nation, has yet to learn how to cook well and with 
least trouble. It is new to the present generation of 
English workmen to have butcher's meat even once a day ; 
a little wise persuasion may induce many to abstain from 
it on principle, as their fathers did from necessity ; but to 
refuse, not bacon-fat only, but also red herrings, bloaters, 

> t 


and sprats, is a still harder thing for those who cannot 
afford butter — who have no supply of savoury herbs, and no 
experience in cooking. If any mass of our workmen 
could be induced to adopt the more moderate abstinence 
of accepting the animal produce of the seas, but refusing 
that of the land, many of the most valuable results claimed 
by vegetarians would be obtained. Besides, if the 
principle of studying what is the best food once gain 
ascendency, the more severe rule surely wins on the laxer. 

But even by the laxer' rule we' should reverse the error 
made from 1847 onward. In 1845 and 1846, before the 
actual repeal of the "Corn Lawsi it was ^ predicted by 
General Perronet Thompson and Colonel Torrens, advo- 
cates of the repeal, that one result would be a great 
increase" of demand for butcher's meat, dairy produce, and 
garden vegetables, by which' the farmers would grow rich. 

So if shortly proved. As fast as wages rose in the 
towns - through increased commercial prosperity, the 
artizan population consumed more and more flesh-meat. 
By a coincidence no doubt accidental, in 1847 the Vege- 
tarian Society was formed, and year by year proclaimed 
to the multitude the wisdom of saving their money by a 
more economic diet, which was on several other grounds 
far better. 

But the newspapers treated them with ridicule ; 
miedical practitioners and the employers of navvies 
zealously preached up butcher's meat ; the mass of the 
nation never had the arguments brought before them ; 
the rush after flesh-meat continued, until murrain after 
murrain resulted among the cattle ; panic followed ; public 
slaughtering was commanded, in order to * stamp out ' 
the disease ; prices, already high, were hoisted higher and 
higher, until many begun to ask whence this had arisen, 
and in what it would end. No great research was really 


needed to trace the action of causes. When an enriched 
population eagerly brought up all the butcher's meat that 
was to be had, two simultaneous efforts were made ; the 
one, by bringing cattle in great numbers and from more 
distant places ; the other, by breeding them as fast as 
could be managed. Cattle that are driven long distances 
on their feet undergo much fatigue, with frequent beating 
and terror. If put on board a steamer, things are no 
better with them, but oftener much worse. To be tossed 
about in the hold by a rough sea is a frightful infliction. 
Even if they be effectually tied, the terror and suffering is 
extreme. The air is made foul, sometimes pestilential. 
To get the animals up and down is difficult in proportion 
to their weight. Even in tranquil weather they can 
seldom be left on deck ; so that, on the whole, one must 
expect a sensible fraction to arrive in a febrile or diseased 
condition. Indeed, to supply them with water during a 
voyage is a difficult operation. Nor, in fact, is trans- 
mission by rail much better. In long travel they have 
seldom due supplies of water. During the first murrain, 
which Government officers and * experts' attributed to 
CONTAGION from foreign cattle (for our men of science 
expect us to believe that England cannot generate 
disease at home ; it all, forsooth, must come from 
abroad ; vice and unnatural treatment never breed 
maladies on our pure soil !) the railway cars were no 
sooner freed from one troop of cattle than another was 
crowded into them. 

Such are the enormities which grow out of blind zeal 
to get rapidly to a market. With such things in the heart 
of our country we were to stamp out the murrain by 
excluding foreign cattle, and by killing and burying at 
public expense our own, when suspected of disease. Men 
may make no end of laws, and multiply police to enforce 


them ; but fresh and fresh malpractices, unforeseen by 
statesmen, are sure to spring up, if avarice be adequately 
stimulated by demand from rich customers. 

So much of the distant travel ; but to look at the 
metropolis only, can we believe that, by building at vast 
expense the new Caledonian Market, the atrocities on the 
cattle can be avoided for which Smithfield was condemned? 
True, one may have more reception-room when they at 
length arrive, but the effort of getting them through 
narrow and crowded streets is not less, and the street- 
distance to be traversed must now in many cases be far 
greater. To transfer such masses of living creatures week 
by week and day by day in sound health to distant 
centres must always be an anxious problem. The im- 


porter does not willingly consent to have his beasts con- 
fiscated for the public safety, and generally persuades 
himself that the case is less urgent. Private interest, 
which it is often hard to call cupidity, constantly struggles 
to outwit official vigilance. Also, the beasts have to be 
driven from the market to the slaughter-house ; and the 
complaints made of the inevitable cruelties and frequent 
public danger in getting them along the streets, are as 
vehement as anything that could be said fifty years ago. 
The medical officer declares that the slaughter-houses in 
Whitechapel and Aldgate perceptibly damage the health 
of the neighbourhood. 

Meanwhile, what as to the raising of stock at home ? 
To feed the shambles as largely as possible, the cows are 
killed in middle age, young heifers replace them, and 
progeny is raised from immature parents. This is attested 
by graziers, some of whom have imputed to it the foot- 
and-mouth disease. Without believing their theory^ we 
yet must not overlook their attested ^r// and it appears 
almost certain, that if for twenty years together cattle be 


thus bred, the race must become feebler in constitution, 
and thereby more liable to imbibe and sink under what- 
ever disease may happen to be in the air, or to be brought 
in by contagioa .' . ... 

Thus, on all sides, the inevitable result comes out, 
that when a nation demands more butcher's meat than 
can come to each place from the immediate neighbour- 
hood and without artificial stimulus, a formidable fraction 
of the -supply will arrive in a state dangerous': to the 
public This is no accident : it must be a permanent 
fact if the present demand be permanent The hundreds 
of tons of meat hitherto confiscated by the superin- 
tendents of the markets will not become fewer : in the 
margin beyond what is condemned, there will always be, 
as now, a quantity probably larger still, on which suspicion 
rests. Considerable masses are always sold off cheap ; 
and so long as poor men regard butcher's meat as a 
necessity, the headth of thousands will suffer by taint in 
food which has escaped the public inspector. 

This one consideration appears to the writer to be of 
paramount importance. Weighty as are other arguments 
of vegetarians, none appear so urgent as this. Therefore, 
to repress the demand for butcher's meat by advice and 
by example — to induce the artizan population to go back 
to the habit of their immediate parents — to prevent the 
longing for a daily meal of mutton, pork, or beef, now 
loudly preached to the agricultural labourers as their due 
— seems to be of grave national importance. To eat, or 
not to eat, sprats or dry herrings hardly deserves to be 
regarded as a co-ordinate question with the danger of 
eating infection, as the punishment for foolish, harsh, and 
cruel treatment of hundreds of thousands of harmless 
sheep and oxen. 

No effort is here made to exhibit the immense mass 


pf broad facts, based on the state of whole nations, which 
proves decisively that vegetarian diet is able to produce 
the maximum of human strength. As usual, men pre- 
tending to science quote cases of nawks who worked 
better on rumpsteaks. Suchlike narrow experiences 
almost always admit of a simple solution : *Pay men 
better, and they work with a hearty will ; pay men better, 
and they also rush into sensual indulgence.* But these 
overfed navvies are not healthy. The tale of them is 
that of athletes according to Aristotle, who were wholly 
unsound because they * over- ate and over- worked.-^ - The 
reader must- be referred to the pages of Mr. John Smith, 
of M/giltpn, or rather to its abridgment by the Vegetarian 
Society, for the abundant evidence of the remarkable 
strength of nations who feed on grain and other fruits of 
the earth.^ 

Hitherto, as has often perhaps been remarked, the 
rich eat whatever they like, and the poor whatever they 
can get. Few indeed appear to have made the inquiry, 
either morally or physiologically, What is best for a nation 
to eat ? On the other side of the Atlantic we have a 
warning to what our national habits tend. In the 
American Union physical abundance has long reached 
the lowest class ; butcher's meat is eaten as often as they 
please by the population in ; town and country, yet no 
part of the English race is so unhealthy. Stomach- 
ailments, and nostrums to relieve them, abound there as 
nowhere else ; a prevalent haggard aspect seems to tell 
of unsound nourishment ; but possibly over- work of brain 
may in some cases conspire to the result In Australia, 
some  allege, the Yankee type of countenance already 

* Fruits and Farinacea, by John Smith, of Malton. Abridged by the 
Vegetarian'Society. I^ndon : F. Pitman, Paternoster Row, 2nd ed. 
1883. Price One Shilling, 


appears ; but all is too new there to rest an argument on. 
In New York and the neighbourhood, in order to get a 
sufficient supply of milk, the cows are fed on the refuse of 
distilleries, by which the quantity of the milk is increased 
and the quality deteriorated. Moreover the cows, con- 
fined in cellars, become emaciated and diseased. Such 
are the mischiefs which our artificial modern contrivances 

A second evil of the great demand for butcher's meat 
and dairy produce is, that the high price makes it worth 
while to restore cultivated land to grass. The farmer 
saves the wages of tillage, of weeding, and of gathering 
crops ; yet one cannot tell d priori, whether he would 
prefer to devote the fields to crops for the consumption of 
cattle, and (perhaps) keep .the animals in stables. But it 
is sufficiently testified in Government Blue Books, that in 
Ireland land is now given back to grass in order to rear 
more cattle and sheep. Hereby the soil is rendered 
immensely less productive of human food. The rustic 
population are less needed, and must be driven into 
towns to compete for work or to swell the ranks of 
paupers, or emigrate to enrich other soils ; while our 
towns become more and more dependent on the foreigner 
for food. This stage of national existence, denoted by 
overgrown towns, and rural places occupied by many 
cattle and few men, strongly marks the period of decay, 
and cannot too soon alarm us. 

But it will be observed that, whether the population 
does or does not eat fish, neither usage promotes any of 
the evils which (in our present stage) attach to a general 
coveting of butcher's meat. The supply of fish is just so 
much added to the national food, without using up an 
acre of cultivable land. It cannot cause displacement of 
rustic labour. Dead fish may, no doubt, be sold when 


unwholesome : so may vegetables. But to beware of 
each evil is comparatively easy. The fish is ordinarily 
brought to shore alive, in a perfectly natural state, in its 
own element. 

The argument here is simply that from the vegetarian 
point of view it is of comparatively slight importance at 
the present crisis to induce the mass of the people to for- 
swear fish, as stick. Few get fish other than sprats, skates, 
and sometimes mackerel and herrings. If a pledge con- 
duce to steadiness of conduct (as many find) it would 
seem expedient to have a series of pledges varying in 
stringency, so that each my select that which his circum- 
stances allow him to carry out. 

But we turn now to a side of the subject which must 
grow in importance — the supply of milk. It was men- 
tioned that the Vegetarian Society, while condemning 
suet and lard, distinctly permits the use of milk, butter, 
and cheese. But milk and butter, alas ! are now most 
difficult for our rustics to attain. The railroads give 
facilities of transport, and the towns buy up the dairy 
produce wholesale. In many places farmers contract with 
shopmen in towns to supply so much, that they have 
little or nothing left to sell to their own neighbours. If 
to potatoes buttermilk can be added, an Irishman has all 
that nature needs ; but if not even buttermilk can be had, 
potatoes are not a sufficient food, nor is brown wheaten 
bread by itself palatable, unless it be in its prime of ex- 
cellence. Charitable persons have been known to pur- 
chase preserved Swiss milk, dilute it with the due pro- 
portion of hot water, and sell it to our peasants, who 
otherwise had no chance of purchasing milk at all. 

When such facts raised the inquiry, * Could not our 
rustics have cows of their own, if a run for them was 
allowed ! ' the thought moved a nobleman whose philan- 


thropy we do not call in question, to abrupt laughter ; so 
absurdly impossible did he regard it. Yet in other coun- 
tries it is not impossible ; and even in Scotland some 
large farmers deem it for their interest to allow cow- 
pasture to their labourers. Over the peasants' inability to 
get -m^at-fibre as food, it is not necessary to mourn ; but 
the deprivation of even skim-milk and buttermilk is a 
serious fact which urgently calls for remedy. Even 
wandering Arabs and Turkomans, who rarely taste flesh, 
account milk and its products a very important part of 
food. That our greedy towns should be able to buy all 
up and leave the peasants empty, is a* national scandal 
Evidently the milk ought in some sense to be in the 
peasant's own han4s, so that he may have the option of 
detaining it for the use of his family. 

It is generally' imagined that in vegetarian cookery 
great quantities of milk and eggs are necessarily used. 
This is a mistake; nay, some vegetarians do not use 
these articles- at all. Still, it is unfortunate, that when 
they are not entirely renounced it is always open to 
opponents to say that they are inordinately used: and 
this often is asserted- very broadly,* though without at- 
tempt at proof— ^proof and disproof being alike difficult. 
The assertion springs out of two erroneous assumptions 
— (i) that there is in every vegetarian a craving after the 
nitrogenous element supplied by the lean of meat, by 
milk and by eggs ; (2) that the supply cannot be obtained 
from purely vegetarian food. 

The second error ought not to be made in the present 
state of science. For more than twenty years it has been 
notorious, and conceded beyond controversy, that the 
gluten of wheaten brown bread and of barley is chemi- 
cally identical with albumen; that is to say, with the 
substance of flesh-meat ; also that beans, peas, and lentils 



■i I 1. 1 I [ » —  — 

are richer in nitrogen than is lean beef itself. The purest 
vegetarian does not need to suffer from any deficiency of 
nitrogen, and vegetarians in general steadily deny that 
they have any craving for such food. Indeed, it has 
been irt- morel recent years ascertained that the nitroge- 
nous or flesh-forming element is of immensely less im- 
portance than the ^^«/- giving element, for the latter is 
that.wjiich gives vital force. If a man works very hard, 
he somewhat wears away the muscular tissues, on which 
account he needs a littk more of albumen ; but the 
exhausjjpn Qfiyital force, is, by far the graver drain upon 
him, a*nd even when we work least, there must be a large 
expenditure of the latter, kind. Starchy and oily sub- 
stances supply heat and force; and these substances 
abound in the vegetable world. If any vegetarians be 
extravagant in milk and eggs, it is not from any craving 
of their stomachs, but from excess of zeal or ignorance in 
the cooks. In every house of moderate wealth the cook 
likes to make her dishes highly palatable, and will prob- 
ably, be lavish in the use of these popular delicacies, 
unless steadily checked by the mistress. 

To. the .present [writer, ever since he has adopted 
vegetarian practice, it has been matter of conscience not 
to increase his use of eggs and milk— of milk especially ; 
because to .make a run on it involves all the same evils 
as to /make a run on butcher's meat. • In fact, if any one 
can reconcile himself to the use of oil in cookery, there 
is no difficulty whatever ; otherwise there is probably a 
necessary increase in the use of butter in preparing vege- 
tables when other animal fats are refused. Different 
vegetable oiU have, no doubt, different flavours ; and a 
little more experience will teach us how, by a slight addi- 
tion of vegetable acid or of some savoury herb, any taste 
pf an oil offensive to an individual may be corrected. 


Skim-milk, buttermilk, and cheese retain the nitrogenous 
element ; hence, added to potatoes or bread, they make 
very complete human food. In buying up the country 
butter, the towns do not rob the rustics quite so cruelly 
as when they take the milk itself; still it is very inexpe- 
dient and essentially unfair. If vegetarians are to hold 
up a noble and profitable example to others, they must 
not only jealously restrict their own consumption of milk 
and its products, but ever be aiming to lessen it 

The argument on this side would become prudential 
and personal if we could believe that the statements 
about pestilential milk which have had currency in our 
newspapers point at any general facts and soundly ex- 
pound principles. Cows, it is said, fed on unwholesome 
grass, were not visibly and at once made ill^ but their milk 
instantly became pestilential, and whole families suffered 
mysterious diseases from it. There has been plenty of 
unwholesome water and herbage in all past ages to do 
cows harm, if their instinct did not avoid it Have our 
cows suddenly lost skill in the choice of food ? When 
by an excessive use of liquid manure the grass of a 
meadow has been made pestilential, if cows through 
hunger eat it and it be poisonous to their milk, must it 
not first be poisonous to their blood and quickly alarm 
the cowkeeper ? Do men wish to poison their own cows ? 
Or can they do so and be blind to the fact ? One may 
be pardoned some incredulity, however respectable the 
medical authority which is said to have traced the evil 
home to its source. 

To return to the question of national consumption — 
it is beyond dispute that by injudicious choice of food a 
nation may starve upon a soil which is amply sufficient 
for it Horses we keep, not to feed on, but for service. 
But oxen are no longer used for the plough or the cart, 


or very rarely. They are raised for food ; and to get the 
same amount of human food through them needs three 
or four times as much land as would be required if we 
fed on grain, pulse, potatoes, or fruit suitable to our cli- 

So little are the minds of even educated people exer- 
cised on these topics, that ridiculous objections are con- 
stantly made by them. * How can you get nitrogenous 
food to make you muscular, if you do not eat beef or 
mutton ? ' asks one gentleman who has a smattering of 
chemistry. But liow do the bull and the horse get their 
muscle without eating flesh ? Evidently they get it, not 
only out of grain, but even out of grass, to which our 
organs are not equal: but the element must be in the 
grass, unless you admit that they get nitrogen from the 
air by masticating ; and if they can, so can we quite as 
well. * What will you do for manure ? ' says another, 
* if you do not keep cattle ? ' But if you return to the 
soil all refuse of plants, and, in short, whatever you take 
out of it, no exhaustion can follow. Exhaustion is caused 
if you send the whole crop clear away, as, not least, when 
you annually export herds of cattle. * The oxen would 
eat us up if we did not eat them,' is also a common 
remark. But why, then, do not the horses, whom we do 
not eat, eat us up ? Our graziers do their utmost to 
multiply the oxen, yet the objector is not aware that 
their number is now artificially great. In fact, the oxen 
may be justly said nom to eat us up, for they lessen 
largely the number of men who can live from our soil. 

Our whole treatment of these cattle is quite against 
nature. Fifty and a hundred years ago the employment 
of oxen for the plough was in many counties still kept 
up, and there is no adequate reason why (with an im- 
proved breed) all the heaviest work on a farm should not 


be done by the bulls, as in Virgil's day. Exercete^ viri ! 
tauros. High-bred bulls walk faster than heavy cart- 
horses, and might advantageously- supersede them. If 
fondled from early days,^ they are quite gentle; and 
costeris paridus, they are stronger for draught than horses. 
The very form of the horse marks him as designed for 
swiftness, that of the bull for weight and strength. Give 
back to the bull his functions in agriculture, and you will 
not need to ask, * What can we do with him if we will 
not cat him ? ' any more than concerning the horse. 

While it is in many ways. evident that for national 
economy — for a wise application of national resources t— 
we ought to feed on. the direct .produpe of the soil, the 
arguments of private econoiti}? come home more quickly 
to each of us. ' Fdr;^wer:hate'the positive testimony of 
the first chemists as to the'.real.' superiority of grain and 
pulse, and dried ca4>bage,'.or dried cauliflower, and nuts, 
and dried apples, and potatoes, to equal weights of dried 
meat;. so that it is very easy to convince oneself that a 
flesh diet: is the. more, expensive; indeed, when largely 
indulged in, is a scandalous extravagance. But inas- 
much' as we, are ' guided . to food — not indeed by pure 
instinct,: butcby habit, which takes the place of instinct — 
^nd as our.- taste generally, demands what is habitual, 
most persons: are incredulous as to unusual dishes, and 
in%JsXXh^Vsoupe viaigre must always be a * meagre ' thing, 
^nd that without at least meat-gravies we could not have 
^kJflltlNltataUe dinners. 

.Only: the few have strength of mind to resist the 
tyranny of customary tastes. Yet it is certain that the 
zest of food mainly depends on a healthy stomach and a 
keeii appetite ; and that the vegetable world has courit- 
lC8|j, delicious flavours, far outnumbering those of the few 
animals whose flesh we eat. There is no basis for the 


prejudice which here is often so obstinate. To begin 
with broth : the broth from peas, beans, or lentils is far 
superior to that from mutton. The flavour given by celery, 
with onions or leeks, to vegetable soup competes with any- 
thing that flesh can give. Mushrooms of several kinds 
surpass in dielicacyand flavour the best of chops and steaks, 
which indeed often owe much to mushroom ketchup or 
horse-radish sauce, or tomatoes, or capers, not to mention 
pepper and salt, curry and spices. The very cheap 
savoury herbs, which the poorest person can command, are 
numerous — as mint, thyme, lemon thyme, sage, fennel, 
tarragon, marjoram, horse-radish ; from which, with 
ketchup or celery, compounds niay be made, giving 
flavour to every combination of leaves or roots, or to grain 
and pulse, without thinking of milk or eggs, or even 

It is only prejudice and ignorance of cookery that 
keeps people incredulous. But for this very reason it is a 
matter of first-rate importance to have in every great 
town at least one vegetarian room, with substantial and 
pleasant dinners, at a price not to exceed sixpence. This 
can easily be done, and would be done in a month's time 
only that the Vegetarian Society is very poor, and cannot 
run risks with its narrow funds. Nor need such a shop fail 
of success, if a right selection be made of its conductor. 
He (or she) must be a thorough vegetarian at hearty 
zealous for the cause, as well as clever in business, and up 
to the mark in cookery. 

Such an establishment would have an immense 
advantage over an ordinary eating-house, in the fact that 
grain, potatoes, and pulse, which are the staple in Vege- 
tarianism, all keep a long time quite unharmed, while 
flesh is quickly spoilt. This is one of the causes why 
* licensed victuallers ' have degenerated into mere drink- 



sellers. Beer and gin keep well, and meat does not Of 
course, nothing but trial will convince the public how 
advantageous and satisfactory are vegetarian dinners. So 
far every such attempt succeeds, where things go on by 
routine and order. Judgment is constantly needed, when to 
make large purchases, how to select, for what to prepare ; 
until it be certain what class of dishes and what form of 
food is most popular. Philanthropy and wealth are often 
found closely combined If a few rich men, anxious for 
the public welfare, would take this task in hand, consult- 
ing with the Vegetarian Society, they might soon have very 
gratifying success. 

It may be well here to name, that any one, without 
pledge as to his diet, may become an Associate of the Vege- 
tarian Society by a simple declaration that he desires to 
promote the diffusion of their literature, and by subscribing 
5^. annually to their funds ; which will entitle him to 
receive their monthly organ, the Dietetic Reformer. The 
patron of a vegetarian eating house, by becoming an 
associate of the society, would obtain their zealous co- 
operation, but of course would remain uncontrolled on 
his own ground. 

Some years ago a challenge was made and accepted 
in Birmingham, which bears directly on the subject now 
treated. A vegetarian, twitted by an opponent with the 
expensiveness of his cookery, declared that he could give 
a dinner to twelve persons for five shillings. The oppo- 
nent nailed him to his word, and defied him to make it 
good. It had been uttered rashly, yet he proceeded to 
justify himself. The conditions were written down. The 
dinner was to be (i) satisfying to the appetite ; (2) grate- 
ful to the taste ; (3) not displeasing to the eye : the price 
of the articles was not to exceed fi\^ shillings, but the price 
of coals and cookery was not to be included, 



In the result, not twelve persons only, but sixteen 
joined in the dinner. It consisted of soup, potatoes, 
vegetable marrows stuffed with sage and onions, and 
baked ; plum pudding, apple pie, damson pie and small 
damson tart. The company was abundantly satisfied, and 
the gentleman who had challenged was foremost in con- 
fessing that the conditions had been honourably fulfilled. 
The bill was then produced, by which it appeared that 
the cost had been one halfpenny less than the stipulated 
five shillings. It stood thus : — 

s. d. 

15 lbs. potatoes o 9 

2I lbs. flour o 6^ 

i lb. butter o 7 

Vegetable marrows .... o 9 

Sage and onions o 2 

Split peas o 2 

Celery and carrots * o i^ 

5» d. 
Apples and damsons ... o loj 
Raisins and currants ... o 6 

Sugar o 3 

Milk o 2 

Candied peel o i 

Total 4 iij 

On reading the names of the dishes, it might seem 
that the sweet predominated over the savoury ; but the 
expense shows nearly 3^. to the savoury and 2s, to the 
sweets. It will be remarked that the small sum of 2d, 
gave milk for sixteen persons, while butter claimed the 
larger sum of 7^. Together this is only gd, out of 5^. 

Of course this dinner is only one out of a hundred 
that might be given ; indeed, it is not every one who likes 
vegetable marrow, nor is it easy to believe it substantial. 
One may judge that the potatoes and the peas, giving 
starch and nitrogen, bore the brunt of the battle on this 
occasion ; but the fruit also (costing i^\d, with the sugar) 
gave no despicable aid. Apples are often as cheap as 
potatoes, and it is said they might be much cheaper. Of 
all food, in most climates, fruit produces the maximum 
yield from a given area. In Ceylon it may be in cocoa- 

G 2 


nuts, in the plains of India from SQine other palm or from 
bananas ; in France, chestnuts rare .most productive ; in 
England it may be cobnuts, or it maybe appl^ ; and the 
union of the two is as admirable in food as bread and 
cheese, or as figs and walnuts. Fruit, which our richer 
classes treat as a toy and eat for amusement, ought to be 
a main part of our national food ; and the cheapness of 
sugar gives us a wonderful facility in turning to service 
whatever our often harsh climate may but imperfectly 

Wheat is often called the staff of life, yet it is astonish- 
ing how slow we. are to learn its dietetic value. Indeed, 
because it is too nourishing and quickly dulls, the appetite 
all its most nutritive part is car^ully extracted by our 
clever confectioners, until it is made ks./(gr^/:as ipossible, 
in the form, perhaps, of a French 'roll or a • Sally Lunn. 
Our ancestors boiled it and ate it as * firmity * (frumenty). 
Now-a-days this is turned into a sweet dish, which is 
eaten as a curiosity at certain times of the year. ; The 
confectioners boil the grains whole, which makes the 
husks disagreeable in the mouth. . .^ / -• 

The Syrians manage this dish far better. It is the 
standard daily food with the mass of the people, and is 
called by the unmelodious name berghal. The wheat is 
cracked, not ground^ and then boiled — half an hour seems 
fully to suffice. They eat it with curds of milk, the 
oxygala of the modem Greeks ; and no more tire of it, 
all the year through, than we tire of bread and butter at 
breakfast. . It is a mark that some simple combination of 
food thoroughly satisfies nature, when we do not hanker, 
aftf r'a chajvge. » In this sense, one of the refutations of 
flesh-food r is,- that we ill endure" the same dinner every 
day. ..y^\i<t^Xy treated as by the Syrians, is called by the 
American vegetarians wheat mush^ and it is best to' 


adhere to this name. I find that after it is boiled, a little 
onion, sliced fine and fried, then mixed in with butter or 
oil, and a pinch' of savoury herbs, makes the mush highly 
palatable. There always remains something to bite, as 
the wheat is not ground, but only cracked. 

Lentils are another very delicate and nutritious article, 
which the English public scarcely uses. Peas and beans 
are almost identical, only coarser. Barley, by the richness 
of its gluten, is far superior to rice, and either dressed as 
a pudding with raisins, or as a soup, gives a substantial 
meal. In short, no one can look into the subject and 
make a* few trials without seeing the enormous resources 
at our side, which are now wasted through an exclusive 
zeal for butcher's meat— the food of comparative barbar- 
ism. We haive-but to hope that vegetarian eating-houses 
niay speefdily 'arise to diffuse knowledge. The superior 
cheapness and fully equal niceness of this food, it may 
be reasonably hoped, will call back our artizans from 
the vain chase of flesh-meat. A desirable system is that 
callediby us ordinaries ; in France table d'hdte. Guests 
do not at first know how to order a dinner, and it is 
even better that they should not order it. To be able to 
produce at once whatever is required, is only the result of 
long exiperience, and by an incipient system could hot be 
undertaken with more than a very few staple dishes : 
indeed, a. higher charge ought to be made for everything 
demanded at irregular hours or out of the routine. - ^ In a 
populous town, numbers of clerks and artizans would be 
satisfied by the system of ordinaries, if the food itself 
satisfied them. Trial would soon ascertain whether 
brefakfast would need any change. For those who like 
some warm cheap food at breakfast, and do not take 
kindly to oatmeal porridge (which ought to be always 
coarsely ground, little more than cracked, and never 


swallowed without biting), nothing is generally easier and 
more palatable than yesterday's potatoes fried up with a 
little sliced onion. The nitrogen in the onion will in the 
long run please most persons, and to a really healthy 
stomach it brings no after-taste. 

So far the argument has proceeded, first on that side 
of the question to which a statesman will chiefly look ; 
and we may complete it by observing that, however some 
economists may talk about our being over-peopled, it is 
certain that every English ministry in the future will be 
constantly exercised by the problem, how to keep our 
people at home and secure an increase of their numbers. 
More than ever is it manifest that in the long run the 
power of every European nation will rise or sink with the 
numbers of its population. Spain is on this ground left 
behind in the race. German statesmen are already 
alarmed at the drain from emigration. Russia increases 
her numbers steadily, and loses few to the New World. 
Russia and North America already alarm all Europe by 
the colossal magnitude which they are certain to attain. 
To equal them is impossible ; but it appertains much to 
English security and dignity that these three kingdoms 
should have a population of sixty millions rather than of 
thirty ; and it is certain that under wiser diet and improved 
land-tenure, we could as easily feed sixty millions from 
the soil itself as we now feed thirty with the help of enor- 
mous importation. 

Secondly, and more concisely, we turn to the physio- 
logical question — the healthfulness of a vegetarian diet. 
A popular topic here at once applies. Physicians agree 
that, except our poorest, the nation habitually eats too 
much, and that this is a very prevalent sort of disease. The 
very common phenomenon of a heaviness which before 
the age of fifty damages Englishmen's activity, seems to 


point at over-feeding. Now a flesh diet, by its smallness 
in bulk, directly tends to this evil. It does not fill the 
stomach, yet the stomach does not act well unless dis- 
tended For this reason //^nutritious food, whether hay, 
straw, chaff, shavings, even sawdust, is needed by cattle 
who are fed on grain ; and all condensed food is unwhole- 
some, even dangerous. By reason of the condensed 
nature of flesh-meat, every one who depends on it is 
tempted to take in more than his stomach can deal with ; 
hence the doctor orders dinner pills to fortify us for a 
larger dose of flesh food. If they succeed, the patient 
retains health, but wastes on his vegetative functions the 
strength which otherwise would have been at his voluntary 
disposal. But if his system be not equal to the effort, the 
superfluous food loads him with unwholesome fat, clogs 
his vital organs, and wearies his muscles with his own 

But beyond this the subject admits and has received 
a purely scientific treatment. Only the outlines can be 
here sketched. 

P'irst, what are the diseases by which our richer classes 
are chiefly attacked ? Those which stand in close rela- 
tion to gout. Dr. Prout recounts them as * Strumous, 
lithic acid, and gouty diseases,' and attributes them to an 
imperfect assimilation of the albuminous principles of 
food ; that is to say, to an excess in flesh diet. 

Next, what classes of men recover best from wounds 
and severe accidents ? Much important testimony affirms; 
it is to those who eat least of flesh-meat. Eminent 
surgeons testify that in this respect Indians and Chinese 
far surpass English soldiers, and attribute it to * their 
vegetable regimen.' As gout is not heard of among Irish 
peasants, so too, it is alleged, their blood is less inflam- 
mable than that of well-fed Englishmen, and they recover 
better from severe hurts. 


Thirdly, it is claimed that vegetarians have greater 
exemption from the attacks of epidemic disease than 
flesh-eaters ; in particular it is denied that any case of 
cholera has been found among them, in England and 

Fourthly, it is admitted by physiologists in general 
that the cases of extreme longevity are almost solely found 
among vegetarians. Of course many things must conspire 
that an individual may attain the greatest age possible to 
man. He must have had no hereditary weakness, no 
violent shock from accident or acute disease, no perma- 
nent excess of toil or distressing care, no long exposure 
to bad atmosphere in cities ; and if vegetarian food is of 
critical importance he must have been a vegetarian from 
childhood : then possibly he will live to the age of a 
hundred. It is ridiculous to expect that by adopting this 
practice late in life an individual can become signal in 
longevity ; yet, it is maintained, he may somewhat | 

lengthen his years, especially because the diet itself , 

suffices to cure many maladies probably by the greater 
purity which it gives to the blood. The case of Professor 
Adam Ferguson is signal and notorious. When past fifty 
he was seized with very alarming paralysis. His friend, 
Dr. Black, the celebrated discoverer of latent heat, who 
was no vegetarian, was called in to treat him, and pre- 
scribed a strict vegetarian and milk diet. Under this he 
entirely recovered ; ate no meat and drank only water or 
weak tea for the rest of his life : had no second attack, 
and after the age of seventy was remarkably hearty, con- 
tinuing in much vigour until almost ninety. He lived 
to ninety-three. The effect of a mere vegetarian diet to 
renew shattered life appears here undeniable. 

Fifthly, fruit, which is presumed to have been the food 
of original man — of man who is born * a tropical product,* 


with hairless bckiy— fruit is to him peculiarly medicine as 
well as food. The Germans have their .'grape cure,' and 
among fruits let grapes by all means have a most honour- 
able mention ; yet happily they do not stand alone. 
When a child was covered with ulcers from head to foot, 
and blinded by them — when physicians despaired and 
confessed drugs to be useless — Mr. S. Rowbotham,* a 
surgeon of Stockport, guiltless of vegetarian theory, cured 
the patient perfectly in a few months by a diet of stewed 
English fruit and honey. 

Sixthly, to pass from these details of experience to 
the higher region of comparative anatomy and physiology, 
it is contended that the interior organs and teeth of man 
show him to have been made a frugivorous animal. To 
this day even surgeons and physicians of eminence may 
be heard to say (what betrays an ignorance in them dis- 
graceful) that our canine teeth show us to be made for 
tearing flesh. That this is a gross error is no new dis- 
covery. Linnaeus, Gassendi, Ray, Cuvier, Thomas Bell, 
I^wrence, equally with Professor Richard Owen, avow 
our teeth not to be canine, but to be nearest to apes' 
teeth. Their fangs are indeed larger than ours, and well 
adapted to crack strong nut-shells ; but none of them in 
a state of nature eat flesh. Indeed, any one who examines 
a dog's teeth sees at once the entire contrast ; yet our 
scientific men (so called) allow the epithet canine to run 
away with them ! A close comparison of the digestive 
organs in man with those of the domestic animals on the 
one side, and of the carnivora on the other, shows dis- 
tinctly that his organs are intermediate, as are those of the 

The entire argument is very extensive. Mr. John 
Smith develops it in his * Fruits and Farin^cea ; ' here 
1 Quoted by Mr. Smith from the Lancet of May 14. 1842. 


it can only be pointed at He admits that art and the 
use of fire make flesh tolerable to us as food, but denies 
that that which art enables us to do can ever thereby 
become normally necessary, or tend to so great robust- 
ness as the use of that food to which our physiology and 
anatomy direct us. The mediate place between herbivo- 
rous and carnivorous animals is denoted by the epithet 
frugivorous. This is the place of man, also of the apes 
and monkeys, apparently too of the bear and the pig. 
The horse also has some approximation to the human 
organs, perhaps because grain is a food so well suited 
to him. 

Seventhly, in detail certain peculiarities are alleged, 
to which a reader (if he concede the facts to be all 
correct) will give what weight he thinks they deserve. It 
is said that no carnivorous animals sweat, but all herbivo- 
rous animals sweat ; and since man sweats, this allies him 
more closely to the herbivora. It is further said, that in 
the carnivora the salivary glands are comparatively small, 
in the herbivora very large ; and the reason, too, is plain : 
the herbivora masticate their food with their broad 
grinders, and need saliva for the operation ; but the car- 
nivora never grind food, they have no grinders, and they 
cannot masticate. Now in all these points man resembles 
the herbivora. Again, it is remarked that the carnivora 
lap water, but man and the herbivora drink, A subtle 
question often arises. What is natural to man ? Is not 
art natural? Fire removes evil juices from potatoes. 
Vegetarians will not, because the process is artificial, 
renounce this use of fire. They steep beans and barley, 
they grind or crack grain ; they boil, stew, and bake at 
pleasure. Mills and stewpots were not born with the first 
human pair : they are after-inventions of human art So 
is the roasting of flesh. Why, then, may we not call this 


natural, because each is naturally developed during the 
growth of the human intellect ? 

Of cookery, in the abstract, we must admit this. 
Cookery is requisite to make the greater portion of a 
flesh diet endurable to us ; and without this a large part 
of the world could hardly have afforded food for man in 
his barbarism. In this intermediate state we may call 
Homer*s cookery of a bull * natural ' to man. But if we 
claim to appeal to evolution in defining what is man's 
nature — if we contend that that is our truest nature to 
which we tend in our nobler and advancing condition (a 
very just and wise view) —then we are carried to the con- 
clusion that vegetarian food, being the inevitable future 
of every thickly-peopled nation, is the practice that must 
be avowed as alone suited to our highest and noblest 
development. Man in tropical regions began from it. 
Driven into ruder climes, and unable to live on crops 
fresh sown, or on fruits not yet ripe, he was forced by 
harsh circumstances to feed on the animals who abounded 
on the wild soil, or on the fish of seas and rivers, and 
became himself wilder and harder-hearted. The com- 
mand of fire enabled him to overspread these new re- 
gions, and during an intermediate era he found it easiest 
to live on hunting and on tame cattle. Besides that, it 
was long difficult to protect crops; indeed, those who 
sow or plant must stay by their field till they gather the 
harvest. Inveterate custom fixes the diet of nations, and 
is deaf to argument until stern necessity again comes in — 
as it assuredly must at last, if human population is to 
multiply. Thus, as evolution proceeds, it is discovered 
that flesh-eaters are struggling against a deep current of 
nature, and must suffer, if they are obstinate, in the 

I touch briefly on the third great topic of this argu- 

92 £SSA ys OAT DIET, 

merit— our right over the lives of animals. A new reli- 
gion on this very point is rising on the world of Europe, 
and not a day too early. Within the last thirty years a 
most sensible and very significant change may have been 
noticed among ourselves by all who are not young, in the 
rapidly increasing disgust, or even horror, at all mangling 
of animals for sport A recent burst of indignation 
against it seemed to pervade our literary and our middle 
classes, and was so echoed in the press as sensibly to be 
felt in high quarters. Nearly all this cruelty of sport 
vegetarians now trace to the bare fact that we feed on 
animals: for we are a full century past the time when 
educated Englishmen could enjoy a fight between two 
fierce beasts, or between a man and a bull. We now 
reserve our cruelties almost entirely for the gentle birds 
and beasts, which we think nice to eat; and, the mo- 
ment we resolve to eat them, no mangling of them in 
trial of our skill or of a new weapon seems to touch our 
heart as cruel. 

And, strange to say, when the common conscience 
cries out in indignation against men who, in the gratifica- 
tion of scientific curiosity, inflict exquisite torture on 
animals as sensitive as ourselves, the men of science fling 
back the stone, and declare that all the tortures they 
have inflicted since the time of Galen is less than a single 
week perpetrates in the London shambles ! A calf, killed 
in the style which, from time immemorial, has been 
orthodox with English people, is said to suffer as much 
as a "man suffers from death by crucifixion— though why 
the two forms of death should be compared is not in 
itself clear. 

Naturally, the lover of veal, suddenly enlightened on 
this point, is indignant, and declares that brawn veal 
would have pleased him as well as white veal ; and he 


had no idea that, to .please his eye, poor calves are 
horribly tormented. Who of us requested the butcher so 
to go out of his way ? A- pertinent question, which elicits 
an important fact, of which" the flesh-eater may be qiiite 
unaware* The ' butcher's heart cannot; remain as tender 
as his heart is. The butcher could not get through. his 
business if he retained any such perception of animal 
suffering as a tender lady has — or, we may add, as a man 
who would shudder to wound an innocent bird or hare 
in mere sport We cannot blame the butcher if he be- 
come perfectly callous to the sufferings of animals. His 
trade not only trains him to callousness, but even de- 
mands it of him ; and this is equally true of the vivi- 
sector: hence, no security whatever, in either case, is 
possible against any amount of wanton cruelty. The 
man who by practice steels his own heart must lose his 
discernment of animal suffering with his concern for it 
As long as we have butchers and clumsy butcher-boys we 
must count upon endless cruelties, which, if we could 
see, we should never deliberately consent to purchase 
our meal of flesh-meat at such a cost 

It is not alleged that this applies in every case. It 
is principally with larger cattle (or among those marine 
animals which have peculiar vitality) that cruelty is prac- 
tised ; yet who shall say what lingering distress is en- 
dured by a goose whose liver is artificially enlarged, or 
by an ox or pig which is smothered in fat ? When eaters 
are greedy, pampered, fanciful, and rich, and caterers are 
by trade callous to animal suffering, no limit to the 
miseries of innocent, helpless creatures can be steadily 
maintained. Vegetarians allege that nothing short of 
resolute disdain to banquet at the expense of animal 
suffering can put down this incessant heart-wounding 


cruelty — whether from the steel trap, the gun, the pole- 
axe, or the knife. 

Before man can cease to be the tyrant of the world, 
and become worthy of being its lord, he must love not 
only other men, but also all harmless animals. Then 
they will be his daily delight ; and love, gushing through 
common life, will redound to the joy and perfection of 
man himself, who cannot harden his heart against birds, 
sheep, and oxen — without serious damage to his own 
higher nature. 




I APPROACH my present subject with a sense of responsi- 
bility which is almost painful. I am entirely convinced 
that the subject of landed tenure must become a vital 
one for the next generation. In barbarism, tribe has 
fought with tribe, and in a later stage, nation has fought 
with nation, for the possession of land ; no decider of 
the strife has been found but force. In the advanced 
stage of many nations the poor have fought for the land 
of the rich, and such civil war is deplorably ruthless. 

That England cannot long acquiesce in her present 
system of landed tenure is to me certain ; first, because 
it is in contrast with that of India, that of the United 
States, that of the greater English colonies, and I may 
say of all Europe. Next, because our pauperism is 
chronic ; a fatal blot on our institutions. We are running 
in the track which wrecked France in a horrible revolu- 
tion. -With a contrary policy, Prussia gave to her land- 
less peasants a sure tenure of the soil. The Diet of 
Hungary showed the same wisdom. The Austrian 
dynasty followed a like course. After the Crimean war, 
when the Emperor Alexander emancipated the serfs of 
Russia, he imparted to them definite rights in the soil. 
In an opposite extreme of human life, when, after the 

96 ESS A KS*- ON^ DIET, 

late American civil war, the red men (so called) of the 
Indian territory set free their slaves in imitation of Presi- 
dent Lincoln, they voluntarily re-divided their fields and 
gave to the freedmen an equal portion. In sharp con- 
trast to this generous wisdom, the English Parliament 
which \ottdi first fifteen millions as a loan to the planters 
of the West Indies and the Mauritius, and next converted 
the loan into a free gift of twenty millions, never thought 
of giving to the emancipated slaves any right in the land 
whatsoever. Hence misery and conflict in Jamaica to 
this day. The notions on land traditional with English 
landholders are in sharp, collision with those of the vast 
bulk of the human race, yet they are ma,intained by our 
landed aristocracy, and even by miany who wish to be 
political economists, with simplicity of conviction, like a 
national creed: ''!:•' • 

It is of extreme importance that the contest which 
will have to be carried on against our modern English 
system should be a war of peaceful argument, a remon- 
strance of friendly citizens, not a deadly struggle of force. 

For this it is essential that the townsfolk be the 
leaders, of the movement, and that .they thoroughly 
understand how vital to their interests is a right and wise 
reform — a reform thorough and bold, yet as little as pos- 
sible damaging to those who have blamelessly inherited 
a false position. 

I bave selected for my topic the relation of food 
supply Xo landed tenure, because the irfimediate market 
strikes all minds at once, and brings quick conviction. 
Yet this does not at all exhaust the subject The towns 
have two o^her urgent arguments. They must insist that 
the rural neighbourhood shall maintain its own new 
births, and not make the towns sinks of misery by pour- 
ing into them perpetual streams of needy rustics. Nay, 


every large town must have a right of largely colonizing 
the rustic parts, and establishing upon every town area a 
law of maximum population, which shall not be exceeded. 
Pure air and pure water are a primary right of every 
community, earlier and more pressing than any landlord's 
right Land is not only as necessary to life as air and 
water, but when men are deprived of all control of the 
land, pure water and air cannot be had. So much I 
remark that I may warn you how imperfect is my present 
treatment of this great subject I do but open one side 
of it' 

Now, in the first place, I claim and insist that the 
principles on which land shall be held must be debated 
in a Court of Morals before they can be justly settled by 
the votes of a Parliament A Parliament may^ no doubt, 
debate them in a moral and just spirit — indeed, may 
make morality and natural justice paramount But when 
the argument used is, * Such and such rights have been 
granted by a former Parliament, therefore they are a 
sacred possession of individuals, which must not be con- 
tested,' I vehemently disown it Just so, it was argued 
elsewhere, *The law has sanctioned slavery, therefore 
slaves are a rightful possession.' But a law is wrongful 
which gives away the rights of many in order to pamper 
the wealth of a few. 

Now, as regards movable property, one man seldom 
can injure another by possessing it, even to a huge 
amount. If, indeed, an article be unique^ as an ancient 
MS., a picture, a statue, or some other relic of antiquity, 
the State may claim a right to buy it up for general 

1 See also a short paper entitled ' Is the Land Overpeopled?' issued 
by the Vegetarian Society, 75 Princess Street, Manchester (free on ap- 
plication), in which Professor Newman's opinion is quoted on an im- 
portant national aspect of the food supply in its relation to the wise 
culture of the land, and the adequate employment of labour. 


advantage. Again, if from any cause either water or some 
necessary food is dangerously scarce, the State may take 
possession of the supplies, indemnifying the individuals. 
These are exceptional cases in regard to Movable property ; 
and even so, they set no limit to the amount of exchang- 
able valuables which one man may hold. 

But in regard to land the circumstances are widely 
different, and the moral argument different. In every 
nation which has passed out of barbarism, and does not 
live on the edge of a vast unoccupied region, land is 
sensibly scarce ; and its just distribution to a community 
is a delicate problem of ethics. I do not mean that 
abstract morals can prescribe some one definite mode ; 
several different ways may be all equitable enough to 
satisfy nations which have inherited them. But some 
modes of distribution are palpably ««just; and these 
cannot be made just by the vote of a legislature, espe- 
cially if the legislature has consisted of landholders who 
were voting for their own private gain to the serious 
damage of the community. 

It is here requisite to look straight into the face of 
facts. When a nation even very rude, or what we call 
savage, like the modern North American Indians or the 
ancient Grermans, deliberates in general folkmote on any 
question of property, whether it consists in movables or 
in land, their decision is generally sagacious and just 
They are not biassed by theories nor warped by avarice, 
nor has a rich man any influence by his riches. Justice 
is the chief common good, and sound common-sense 
has, perhaps, a better chance with them than with us ; as 
we see in the case of the red Indians redividing their 
fields to give land to their liberated slaves. But when 
one rude people conquers another, and despoils it of its 
land — imposing tribute, services, and general vassalage 


in the mere insolence of superior force — then the laws 
which the conqueror enacts in his military council or 
parliament for upholding his domination over the con- 
quered are sure to be essentially wrongful, and are almost 
always cruelly so. Even if time soften their hardest 
features, the essential injustice inheres in them until 
some great reversal takes place, either peaceful or insur- 
rectionary ; and however much we may grieve over the 
evils or horrors of such a revolution, yet in the retrospect 
it will be pronounced beneficial and salutary. France is 
an eminent illustration of this. From the cruel iniquity 
of her land-laws and of her taxation, the mass of the 
people were miserable in the extreme. No redress was 
possible, until the Government became bankrupt through 
the failure of taxes, and the army was thoroughly per- 
vaded with the popular discontent Then came a great 
overturn in politics, and a general burning of the country 
seats of the nobility ; in short, a fierce and violent seizing 
of the land by the long-oppressed peasantry. 

Dreadful as was that transition, we now at nearly a 
hundred years distance rejoice in it, as a most necessary 
reconquest by the peasants of men's natural rights. The 
longer that we English postpone a fundamental reform of 
our landed tenure by calm, equitable, and gradual change, 
the closer we shall run to the dangers of a violent explo- 
sion which no wisdom can direct or moderate. Our duty 
is to insist on the discussion of the subject from a moral 
basis, and utterly to disallow the pretence that the landed 
rights now legal are therefore sacred, as if natural equity 
to a whole nation were not more sacred than any privi- 
leges of a separate order of men. All these pretended 
rights originated in conquest, during the slavery or vassal- 
age of the conquered ; or, further, in the votes of great 

councils or parliaments, from whidi all but landholders 

H 2 


were long studiously excluded. Moreover, the modern 
squires and noblemen claim and exercise power which no 
feudal baron possessed — of emptying their estates of men, 
with enormous damage both to the public defence and 
to the supply of our food. 

Before I intended to introduce the topic, I have all 
at 'once alighted on the most forcible illustration how 
direfully a bad landed tenure may damage our food- 
supply. It is not an imaginary or fantastical occurrence. 
It is not the ingenious invention of a novelist It is not 
a matter of which we read in history, as of a Spanish 
monarch who orders all the vines in Mexico to be rooted 
up, or a Norman conqueror who burns villages by the 
hundred in Hampshire to make for himself a hunting 
ground. It stands before us as first practised in Scotland 
early in this century, and since repeated frequently down 
to last year— the dispeopling of wide areas, the artificial 
creation of wildernesses, either to please the taste or to 
swell the rent-roll of some great proprietor. When com^ 
plaint is made that the vast private estates of dukes are 
a legacy of ancient military spoliation, we receive the 
calm reply that, though the system began in mere vio- 
lence, it now conduces to the universal good by pro- 
moting secure cultivation. Unhappily, this is just what 
it does not do. The open fact is that the law enables a 
landlord at his own will simply to /7r^/V/ cultivation, to 
eject the cultivators and all human population except a 
few gamekeepers or shepherds ; this very thing is actually 
done, and with impunity. Will it be pretended that the 
sheep or rabbits or deer, which multiply over the area 
vacated by man, afford to us by their carcases food equi- 
valent to the lost crops ? When the soil is very thin or 
sandy, of course we do not wish to drive out the animals. 
They have their own natural and reasonable sites^ But 


where the soil can bear good crops of human food, it 
cannot be made out that sheep produce as much food 
for us, much less deer or rabbits. Some members of a 
Parliamentary Committee, which sat on the game laws, 
were disposed to believe that there are ninety million 
wild rabbits in the United Kingdom, and to boast of 
them as an important supply of meat to the market ; but 
the damage to crops by animals, which bite off the tender 
shoots, is immensely out of proportion to the bulk of 
their carcases. Wild rabbits are an exceedingly wasteful 
crop of food. As for the deer, few indeed of the public 
ever taste his flesh, and, if in a severe season he migrates 
into sown fields, Scottish farmers are painfully aware how 
costly is his appetite. At present, I simply lay before 
you two considerations : ist, that the primary use of the 
national land, according to natural equity, is to maintain 
the national existence ; 2ndly, as the law now stands, 
landholders may and do forbid the raising of food. 
They study their taste, their sport, or their rent, not the 
national sustenance. 

I am not competent to go into details of farming ; 
but a few notorious facts satisfy me^ and, I think, may 
satisfy you. So long ago as 1827 the evidence given 
before a Parliamentary Committee became the basis of 
an elaborate article in the * Quarterly Review,' which 
much excited squires and noWemen. The quantity of 
produce raised by spade-cultivation, and by such tending 
as peasants give to their own crops, was attested beyond 
dispute to be immensely greater than anything that 
farmers can raise, who have to pay wages. Out of this 
came a movement for allowing to labourers small allot- 
ments, to which they might give their vacant hours. 
When in 1828 I called the attention of an able economist 
to this fact (a gentleman who soon after was Professor of 


- - -  -   !■ Ill 

Political Economy in the University of Oxford), he re- 
plied : * Well 1 if the things attested are true, it would 
seem that Goldsmith, in his " Deserted Village," was a 
wiser economist than any of us.' For the doctrine was 
then rising into strength that small farms must be exter- 
minated, and large farmers with large capital be estab- 
lished everjnvhere. 

But observe how meanly unjust was the treatment of 
the poor peasants after the new discovery. When it was 
ascertained that on small plots of land they could raise 
enormous crops, — then, instead of laying upon them rent 
proportioned to what a farmer would pay, they were 
charged three or even four times a farmer's rent This 
still goes on ; and now it is objected to such allotments, 
that they can only repay the cultivator when they are very 
near to a town-market. Possibly enough that is true, 
while so high a rent is exacted, and while the labourer is 
liable to be ejected at short notice, with loss of his crop, 
as happened with small holders whose allotments I could 
see from my own windows. But that they do pay these 
high rents is a notorious fact ; and it proves beyond 
reasonable dispute, that such cultivation produces im- 
mensely more food for the towns than farmers can raise 
from the same area. Some pretend that small holders 
exhaust the land, and never can afford to manure it : but 
I have seen, day by ddif^ the masses of manure which 
they employ on crop after crop in the same year, and 
this without security of tenure. Who then can wonder 
at the exuberant produce which the peasants of Belgium, 
France, and the Channel Islands raise, in all of which 
places the cultivator is remunerated in proportion to his 
own diligence, and his position is secure ? 

Among political economists the late John Stuart Mill 
deserved chief honour for going back into the footsteps of 

^^^^KS" ON DIET. 103 

Adam Smith, the true founder of the science, and vindi- 
cating small independent culture. He also did the great 
service of calling our attention to the stupendous charge 
which our legislating landlords have brought about, by con- 
verting a feudal rent of custom into a commercial rent of 
competition. On this subject I must touch again. But at 
present I must dwell a Httle on small culture. With the 
exception of allotments which are intended to occupy only 
odd hours of the cultivator, which also have no security, 
the thing hardly exists in Great Britain. A farm of fifty 
acres is called small ; but no farmer can raise crops from 
fifty acres by his own hands, even with the help of his 
sons. He must hire labourers and pay them wages. 
Farmers who have capital are not fond of working hard as 
labourers, and from little farmers the labourers cannot 
expect much generosity. Even so, in several respects, our 
little farmers supply the town-markets better than do 
large capitalist farmers. The wives and daughters of the 
rich have more refined and ladylike employments than 
the care of fowls, eggs, and butter. 

We may be told that these articles are provided for us 
^n a great scale by the large farmers ; but it is an evident 
fact that they are not supplied in the proportion that they 
used to be before high farming was known, nor on a 
scale at all commensurate to the wants of the present 
population, even with our enormous foreign importation. 
In my memory a fowl used to cost eighteenpence, which 
now sells for three shillings or three and sixpence ; butter 
now claims a shilling and tenpence a pound, of a quality 
which I remember to have cost only ninepence or ten- 
pence. Keen competition for farms raises rent, and 
farmers who have to pay a high rent cannot sell their 
produce so cheap ; yet, the political economists who 
have abandoned Adam Smith's doctrine of rent, insist 


that rent does not and cannot raise prices ; a doctrine the 
truth of which they never have been able to persuade me. 
I insist that the landholder's enormous legal power vests in 
him a virtual monopoly. The farmer counts on the rent 
as a first and unavoidable payment, just as if it were a 
Government tax, and then adjusts his wages and his 
prices so as to enable him to bear the burden.^ When 
farmers prosper, the majority of them have quickly to pay 
more rent in consequence, and their superfluity does not 
overflow to the benefit of the wage-receiver. No doubt 
there are two exceptions : a fraction of the whole have 
long leases, and the rent is slower in rising upon these. 
A second fraction of them are hereditary on the estates of 
wealthy landlords, and, as tenants-at-will, pay a moderate 
rent, which is not raised so long as they are obedient and 
dutiful clients. They are bought into political slavery by 
the compact well understood between them and the 
bailiff; and their subservient votes and interest are a 
strong support of the existing landed system. Except in 
these two classes, the wealth of the farmers is a sponge 
for the landlords to squeeze. The tendency of rents is 
upwards ; and, as I think, is decidedly to the damage of 
the town-markets. Quantity is lessened, and price is 

Let us look in contrast to some other neighbouring 
countries. The food sent to us from France is something 
wonderful. I seem to remember that in 1825, Mr. Huskis- 
son said that we received from France evety year six millions 

' I must not be understood to mean that the fat*mers can get what 
prices they please. If they strive to depress rent, to raise prices, and 
depress wages, they find the first of these three tasks hy far the hardest^ 
by reason of the legal power of landlords, and the competition for farms. 
Therefore, in the present state of things they submit to the rent 
dictated to them, and exert themselves only to beat down wages and 
hoist up prices. 


of hens' eggs ; but I believe that now six millions in one 
week is a computation nearer to truth. The importation 
of fowls, grain, and of various dried fruits has also in- 
creased prodigiously. What an idea this gives us of the 
activity of French agriculture ! Our economists of the 
school of MaccuUoch pretend that the small culture of 
France is a deplorable failure. Of course, I am not con- 
cerned to defend French testamentary laws ; but the 
French economists, men of immense knowledge, insist 
that the little properties, take them for all in all, are no 
failure at all, but a vast success. Nay, do we not all 
know how Louis Napoleon got millions of francs out of 
the peasants, and made himself independent of the great 
money-lenders ? Still more recently, have we not seen 
how quickly France has re-established her financial 
position, after the vast expenses and desolations of her 
German war, and the huge fine which she had to pay for 
her aggression ? No one can plausibly explain this, but 
by the sound condition of her agriculture. Again, I 
read that the French Government has had the good sense 
to teach the peasants many secrets of cultivation, espe- 
cially in fruit-culture. When will our landlord parliament 
be equally wise ? The climate of France, as a whole, is 
doubtless superior to that of England ; but how vast has 
been our improvement already in vegetables and fruit ! 
And of what sort were the French markets in the last 
century, before the system of small independent pro- 
prietors was established ? At that time general deficiency 
was the normal state ; a dearth often approaching to 
famine. Universal wretchedness was a fair general de- 
scription then ; but now, in spite of wars and revolutions 
and taxation, the actual cultivators of the soil stand far 
higher in comfort, content, wealth, and security than the 
mass of the English peasants. They not only feed them- 


--     I 

selves, and lay by money, but their food overflows for our 
English markets. With all this, and with the supposed 
superiority of English high farming, our prices are most 
unsatisfactorily high. 

If any one say to me : * Do you forget the large supply 
from the new gold-fields — California and Australia?' I 
reply : I do not forget it, but I am slow to believe that 
this is the cause of the high prices. I <io not pay more 
now, but rather less, than I paid fifty years ago for a coat 
or a shirt, or a table or a chair, or a bed or a book, or a 
hat or a carpet, nor for a cab or an omnibus. These and 
numberless other things, in which price has not risen, are 
as continually in the market as is food ; and there has 
been abundant time since the new gold-fields were open, 
for the superfluous gold to be equally distributed among 
all things purchased. 

Nay more, as trade-unions have forced up prices in 
some articles, so the greatest of all trade-unions, that of 
landlord legislators, has forced up some other prices, as to 
me it seems. Supply and demand are the only agencies 
which force prices up or down, whether the supply of 
gold be increased or lessened. A man who finds gold 
tries to buy something with it If that for which he 
seeks is unique, as Italian pictures, he forces the price 
up, perhaps permanently ; but if he demand something 
which can be supplied without limit, as porter or brandy, 
or hams or champagne, the rise of price is only local 
and momentary, and ceases as soon as the production of 
the article is commensurate to the demand. If all other 
things in the market are increased as fast as the new gold, 
the gold cannot raise prices. Other considerations, which 
may be urged on this side, I here omit. Thus I believe 
that the true, the only real cause why coal and flesh-meat 
and butter and many other things are dearer is because 


they are not produced in proportion to the demand ; and, 
in the case of food, our laws of landed tenure are visibly 
the cause. 

It is contrary to common sense to imagine that a 
wealthy farmer, who has to deal with 500 or 1,500 acres, 
will as scrupulously turn every acre and half acre to 
profit, as will a labourer whose acre is his all. Alike 
against common-sense it is to expect tl:at a peasant, 
who is paid by time and gains nothing by extra diligence, 
will elicit from the soil crops as good as one who is to 
get the benefit himself. Of workmen paid by the day, 
one who is superfluously active seems unfair to all his 
fellows, so that a conventional languor of work tends to 
become normal. Farmers complain, sometimes bitterly, 
of the indolence of the rustics. Says one : * If I have a 
horse that walks well, their first business is to break him 
in to sluggishness, because they are too lazy to walk up 
to him.' Says another : * If a cart pass in the lane, a 
whole gang of labourers turn round and stare at it from 
the first moment it is heard until it is out of hearing. 
Anything for an excuse to be indolent.' 

I speak not to accuse, nor yet to defend, our peasants : 
but we well know that in all human probability special 
vices spring out of special circumstances. Give a class 
of men tyrannical power, and a majority of them become 
proud and tyrannical. Impose on another class slavery, 
and it becomes cunning and untruthful. We cannot 
count on conscientious diligence from workmen who do 
not identify their employers' prosperity with their own, 
and are paid by the time, not by the job. Therefore, I 
am disposed to believe the farmer's complaints of the 
idleness of the peasants : but it is not the farmer only 
who suffers from this : the markets also suffer, and we 
suffer. The mischief springs — I may say legitimately, 


normally — from the existing system of landed tenure. 
With us there is no real deficiency of land, but the 
people are not allowed to get at the land : the rich buy 
up small freeholds where they exist. 

If any one think that the smallness of our English 
area is the cardinal difficulty, let him look to the Channel 
Islands. The late J. Stuart Mill directed attention to 
these, while his friend, Mr. Thornton, brought out the 
details instructively in a special treatise. I have it not 
at hand to quote ; but I remember the general result as 
follows : Guernsey and Jersey are more thickly peopled 
than any part of Great Britain, and have no natural 
advantage in soil. The cultivating population is a much 
greater fraction of the community than with us. After 
feeding themselves, they send to market more produce 
by far, acre by acre, than comes from our wealthiest 
high-class farmers. The reason of this is on the surface. 
Every peasant there, by ancient custom, has a definite 
right in the crop, which it is his interest to make as 
profitable as possible. Though they cannot all possess 
freehold land, their active thought, ingenuity, and dili- 
gence are freely exerted to make the produce abound. 
It may well be believed that weeding, which to an English 
farmer is so expensive, costs nothing there. Surely this 
is more than a hint how noxious to our town-markets are 
our existing laws of landed tenure. 

Indeed, I must dwell a little more on the Channel 
Islands. From a paper written in 1876* I extract the 
following summary : — Guernsey has only 10,000 cultivable 
acres, a small estate for a duke. She has no ducal land- 
lord, but nearly 2,000 small proprietors, with five acres 

^ See article on the Channel Islands, by W. Gibson Ward, in 
National Agricultural Labourers' Chronicle^ Jan. 22, 1876. A learned 
and very useful writer. 


apiece on the average. The population is twice as dense 
as in England, yet there are no paupers. They have been 
spending 16,000/. on a covered market, and 10,000/. for 
a new road to the harbour. Their quays have cost 
285,000/., of which they have paid up 65,000/., and 
clear off the debt at the rate of 1,500/. a year. They 
have excellent market? of vegetables, fruit, and poultry ; 
and in the year 1873 (^-s one specimen) they sent to 
I^ondon fifty tons of grapes grown under glass. Jersey 
also sent to London in the same year 300,000/. worth 
of early potatoes. Instead of this, the islands would 
soon be full of paupers, if you gave them to a Duke 
of Sutherland, or a Sir James Matheson. Turned into 
game preserves, or into a dozen big farms, they would 
not raise a third part of their present food. In fact, no 
such population could then exist on the area. And why 
are these islands so different from us? Because, like 
Norway, they have not been conquered. Their feudal lord 
conquered us. 

A most notable instance of pauperism, induced by 
ordinary farms, and removed by very small culture, is 
attested in the small parish of Cholesbury, near Tring, 
in Buckinghamshire. The details are too long to recite 
here. But the clergyman of the place, the Rev. H. P. 
Jeston, in 1837 or thereabouts, clearly narrated the facts.* 
The parish contained 112 cultivated acres and 44 of 
unenclosed common. The population was 139, and the 
cultivated ground was divided between tw^o farmers. 
Fifty-six acres apiece seems really small. But the poor 
rates ate the farmers up. The total rates at last became 
30J. to the pound The tenants threw up their farms, and 

* Letter of Rev. H. P. Jeston, to Mr. Farden, a Quaker. It 
appeared in a book called Remedies for the Perils of the Nation. 
London : Seeley & COf 2nd edition. 1844, 


the landlord lost his rent. The gates were taken down, 
and the fences left in unrepair, to evade rating. The 
parish minister for years had no income. But the Agri- 
cultural Employment Institution purchased fifty acres 
(thirty-six of arable, and fourteen of woodland), and 
allotted the thirty-six acres to eight or ten married 
men, at a rent of 235. per acre. The tenants imme- 
diately prospered, and paid both rent and rates punctually. 
Previously 119 out of the 139 were paupers; but at the 
end of four years the number of paupers had run down 
from 119 to five, these five being aged or disabled. Some 
of the allottees kept cows, some had a horse or oxen. 
Such was the efficacy of small culture to extirpate pauper- 
ism. It could not do so if it did not get more out of the 

Let me now explain more closely the important revo- 
lution in rent at which J. Stuart Mill pointed. We are 
generally disposed to think of the feudal system as one of 
unmixed tyranny. No doubt there was plenty of tyranny. 
The armed hand was apt to deal at pleasure with the 
person and goods of the unarmed. There was no suffi- 
cient limiting either of the king's power or of the baron's. 
The king's court and the baron's court recovered the 
rights or customs of the king or of the baron, and probably 
did justice between equals in rank ; but they did not avail 
to withstand oppressions by the powerful. The only 
appeal against the baron was to the king, and the result 
(if attempted) was very doubtful. Nevertheless, in the 
feudal system, as with the Ottoman Turks, the general 
principles, when fairly acted on, were equitable and 
beneficial. The king was chief of the barons, who were 
called his peers, that is, his equals, I suppose; as in 
Homer's Iliad, all the chief heroes, though subject to 
Agamemnon, are entitled * kings nurtured by Jupiter.' 


As a baron, the king held large crown-estates, from which 
the ordinary expenses of his government were defrayed. 
They were not his private property, but were attached to 
his office, as the phrase craufn-^^isXes denotes. So, too, 
the barons held estates, not as private men, but as high 
political officers. The whole theory was fundamentally 
military. The baron in person owed military service to 
the king, and was bound to maintain a trained population, 
a small army of retainers, to swell the king's army when 
called for. He was also responsible for the peace of the 
district, ' the king's peace ' as it was called. Hence diffi- 
culties arose when the baron was aged, or if he died when 
his son was a minor, or if he left only a daughter as his 
heiress. The king then knew how to remunerate himself. 
Such cases were well provided lor ; but the cardinal matter 
is, that the baron's revenues were strictly his political 
salary paid to him in his official character, and in remu- 
neration for presumed public services. 

It is true that custom regulated and restricted his 
claims. The idea of driving the human population off 
any part of his estate in order to promote his private 
gains could not then arise. No law was needed against 
it, for the act was unimaginable. William the Norman, 
among his tyrannical violences, did make a wilderness in 
Hampshire for the pleasure of hunting, but his memory 
was execrated for it. Every baron was honoured by the 
king, and was safe against the king, in proportion to the 
number of his retainers, that is, the military retinue, at 
the head of which he could appear at the great council, 
or afterwards in parliament. The military tenure had at 
least this good, that it made a human population valuable 
in the eyes of the barons. They were not then accounted 
a warren of paupers. Estates were esteemed by the 
number of fighting men upon them ; moreover, the cus- 


tomary payments which we now call rent were, to speak 
roughly, in about the same proportion; and the larger 
the crops of food, the better all were pleased. 

But when the political power of the barons was nearly 
crushed under Henry the Seventh, and gold and silver 
began to ooze in from the newly discovered world of 
America, our great lords turned from politics to trade, 
and began to study, not how to keep their retainers, but 
how to augment their rents. So far as I can learn, it was 
in Henry the Eighth's reign that they first claimed to eject 
farmers, through a mere wish to consolidate many small 
holdings into great sheep-walks, because the exportation 
of wool had become profitable. 

A long series of local agrarian wars hence arose. 
Colonel Ouvery, on deputation from the Land Tenure 
Reform Association, of which J. Stuart Mill was president, 
spoke an elaborate and important speech in Bristol on 
this subject, a few years back; and summed up in the 
phrase, that as England had been conquered by her King 
William the Norman, so was she conquered a second 
time by her landholding lords under Henry the Eighth. 
Chronic pauperism has ever since been the unfailing 
result. Whether it can be proved that Parliament ever 
passed a statute to justify the change of rent by custom 
into rent by competition — a change which converted the 
landlord into a landowner — I do not know; and it is 
morally of little importance; for the landlords were 
omnipotent in Parliament. Moreover, we know that in 
Charles the Second's reign they voted themselves free 
from nearly all the remaining feudal duties and feudal 
burdens; a deed which (in a moral estimate) was to 
abdicate their rights to their estates and rents, which 
ought thereby to have reverted to the Crown for public 
uses. The fraud on the nation has been enormous; 


and, though the injustice to later purchasers would be 
cruel if we insisted that the rents now belong to the 
State, and not to noblemen, baronets and squires, still 
the grievous historical iniquity fully justifies a determin- 
ation not to allow a continuance of things as they are. 
Into what the feudal system ought to have developed, we 
see in the Channel Islands : instead of that, the feudal 
lords have made themselves into commercial landowners. 

Unhappily Mr. Stuart Mill's death seems to have 
killed the Land Tenure Reform Association, which was 
supported by many M.P.s, apparently only from their 
esteem of his talents. He held a peculiar doctrine, 
which few people regarded as practical, of claiming for 
the State, as a small fraction of its rights * the future 
unearned increment of Rent' — a scheme which to me 
appeared perfectly just in theory, but too difficult to 
carry out justly. For myself, I confess I have always 
looked for a remedy in a different direction. Very old 
abuses so entangle themselves with just claims that even 
if, after the manner of a little Greek city, we were to 
set up some sage as a plenipotentiary lawgiver, no single 
settlement could bring things right. To avoid violent 
treatment of the case we must have a long series of 
enactments, all moving in one direction, and all con- 
sistent, for which we need not a law of Parliament, but 
a solemn vote, enunciating the policy which is henceforth 
to guide legislation. 

This is called unpractical by men who love intrigue 
and shuffling — men who dread legislation that rests on 
principle, and is guided (as all law ought to be guided) by 
impartial and noble morality : but to me nothing appears 
so practical. A Vote of the House of Commons (for the 
concurrence of the Lords is not needed) has no effect in a 
court of law; it alters no man's immediate rights, though 



prospectively it has great moral force. If, after solemn 
debate, such a Vote were to deplore the unjust legislation 
of a past age, and to lay down the direction which legis- 
lation ought to take in future, stating the objects to be 
aimed at steadily, with a general outline of measures to 
be contemplated and evils to be redressed, the nation 
would eagerly discuss all the points, and opinion would 
ripen for successive enactments, which, by being gradual 
and foreseen, would press as lightly as may be on existing 
interests. The main principles which I should like to see 
foremost are these : — 

1. In order to promote the supply of food, to aid 
us towards independence of foreign accident for our 
first necessities, and to do justice to the labourer, the 
cultivator ought to have an interest in the crop, and, as 
far as possible, security of his position. 

2. It is against the public welfare that any individual 
should control more than a thousand acres of cultivable 
land, or more than one acre of town land. 

3. Every large town ought, as soon as possible, to buy 
up the entire town land, and the building land around it 
at the price now obtaining, to be settled by a jury. 

4. The State ought steadily to aim at recovering its 
control of country land, partly by purchase, and partly by 
a legacy tax, taking the tax not in money but in land. 

5. In order to exterminate the pauperism and laziness 
of the rustics, which ensues when the labourer is divorced 
from the soil, the State ought actively to aid in re-estab- 
lishing small culture. One obvious method is, to carve 
large portions of the crown lands into farms of from six 
to ten acres, with copyhold rights to the tenants, and a 
guarantee that the rent should never be raised on an 
individual by reason of his prosperity, but, if ever, only 


by a vote of Parliament affecting all tenants of the crown 
lands alike, as in general taxation. 

Brief comment suffices on these cardinal principles. 
According to natural equity, no man has a right in land 
except by dwelling on it or cultivating it ; and when he 
ceases to do either, his right ceases, except that if he 
have improved it, he has a right to sell his improvements 
if he can, before abandoning the cultivation or habitation. 
When the State set up a lord of the land (that is, a 
chief person), he was a political officer, not a proprietor ; 
that was intelligible, and not at all unreasonable. The 
modern commercial idea of land is essentially unreason- 
able, and is pernicious unless jealously limited in the 
extent of possession. 

Land being the surface on which we live, to make 
any man the owner of large tracts is to vest in him a 
power very inequitable over a whole population. Such 
power can hardly be made responsible. It is in some 
sense more than royal power, although in theory the 
baron, as the king's delegate, could have only at most the 
same power as the king. A king might as well call hiva- 
^^ owner of England, and warn us off his land, as a 
baron clear people off his estate. No small possessor 
would set up game-preserves or deer-forests, destructive 
to the food of the nation. A thousand acres allows as 
much of beauty and of privacy as any man ought to 
desire ; and in the present developments of industry large 
fortunes may be variously invested in great concerns, or 
lent on solid guarantee ; hence, to restrict possession of 
land (which is naturally scarce) does not restrict private 
fortunes. If once Parliament set a public ban on estates 
larger than a defined limit (I say a thousand acres, to ^x 
ideas), we should soon have laws to tax exceptionally all 

estates above that limit. The tax might increase with 

I 2 

ii6 £SSAyS ON DIET, 

time, and be especially heavy upon bequests exceeding 
the limit. 

Thus in two generations a great change might take 
place. Indeed, another law would soon give to wealthy 
towns a right of purchasing land for public purposes and 
colonizing the country. Instead of emigrating into distant 
lands and sending our capital abroad, we ought to people 
our own empty fields and many a Scotch wilderness. If 
cultivators multiplied on the soil and had a safe tenure, 
we should soon have an enormous increase in the supply 
of food. Our fruit would not equal that of France, nor 
would our wheat ripen so surely ; but wheat is not the 
only grain, and we should in one sort or other vastly 
increase and improve our supply of food, if the peasantry 
had security and early teaching. In recent centuries we 
have scarcely known properties on the scale of Belgian or 
French farms ; yet there is amply sufficient testimony to 
the abundant crops which a single family will raise from 
six or even four acres. 

The Cumberland statesmen (as they were called) had 
farms ten or fifteen times as large, and needed labourers 
to help them. Those who object to small properties 
point to the decay of this Cumberland institution, in 
proof that small culture cannot succeed : but it proves 
nothing of the kind. As I understand, the proprietors 
have been simply bought out by the high prices which 
men, enriched by manufactories or by minerals, have 
offered them : not but that the bad habit of drinking has 
often aided the break-up. Yet, this experience is a 
warning to us that small freeholds will not stand while 
the holding of large estates is lawful. Rich men offer a 
fancy-price for land, and will generally succeed in buying 
it ; and then they moan over getting only 2 J or 2 per 
cent, in return for their money, as if it proved their great 


equity ; perhaps, too, they plead this as a reason why 
their burdens should be lessened. 

When the State is the landlord, the farms cannot be 
sold and incorporated with the property of — what shall I 
call an insatiable land-buyer ? — well : a landshark seems 
to me a 'fit name. But the prophet Isaiah cries woe 
against him. * Woe unto them that join house to house, 
and lay field to field, that they may be themselves 
alone in the midst of the land.' Thus in Judaea we see, 
though the legal and sacred system was one of small 
hereditary freeholds, it was very difficult to prevent the 
rich from buying out the poor. 

In the Roman republic there is a history not wholly un- 
like our own. The official aristocracy was perpetually at 
work, with great success, to turn public land into private by 
playing into one another's hand ; and the people found no 
remedy until they carried a law to forbid any one from 
holding more than 500 Roman acres of the public land. 
That statute brought relief to the original citizens : but 
when Rome conquered all Italy, the same evil grew up on 
a far greater scale. The Gracchi saw it, tried to bring a 
remedy, but only became martyrs ; and 200 years later 
Pliny wrote, in three words, an emphatic sentence : Lati- 
fundia perdidire Italiam — * Large estates have ruined 
Italy.' In the days of Cicero and Horace, Italy could not 
feed the city of Rome. The poet Horace complains that 
barren shade-trees and flowers and ponds of fish super- 
seded orchards and crops of food ; general cultivation 
was largely supplanted by grazing. Huge towns abounded 
in population : over the country, herds of cattle and a few 
graziers moved, except where some nobleman had his 
palace and ornamental grounds. Full towns and empty 
country characterize ancient Rome, modem Turkey, and 
England, — this is a painfully ominous mark of decay. 


The political intelligence and freedom of our towns, with 
their vast wealth, give to us great advantage. If we now 
open our eyes to the danger, remedy does not come too 
late. Let not a defective and perverted political economy 
deceive us. 

Unhappily, several leading economists seem to have 
forgotten that vice and bad law are of all things most 
wasteful, and from their zeal to repress population by 
artificial methods (an unnatural and oppressive aim), 
they have soothed the consciences and hardened the 
hearts of landlords, who empty their fields of men. But 
politics and morals, not political economy, must discuss 
and define men's rights. Land is not merely a surface 
destined to bear rent for a few grandees ; it is the surface 
on which a nation must dwell, and from which a nation 
must have food. I do not complain or grieve, as some 
do, that we grow less wheat than we used. In other 
lands wheat ripens more surely than with us, and there 
is reason in buying it with other products, provided that 
we raise other food on our own lands. On this we 
deliberately calculated in 1847. But when enormous 
fortunes are earned, some by commerce and manufactures, 
others by the demand for those minerals which wealthy 
communities need, the millionaires buy up land, not to 
get it cultivated for the nation's food, but to pamper 
pride and indulge fancies, or for the yet baser purpose of 
getting a high sporting-rent from another class of self- 
indulgent rich men. Our statesmen seem to be so 
accustomied to things as they are, as not to reflect that 
chronic pauperism is a disease which must at length kill 
an^ nation that neglects it. 

Cheap food is a matter of prime importance. When 
the necessaries of life are cheapest, all commodities which 
gratify higher tastes rise in value. When food becomes 


scarce, whatever refines and ennobles human life becomes 
depreciated. Therefore cheap food is even of first neces- 
sity to national wealth ; but what is far more, it tends to 
keep down pauperism, vice, and rascality. Even corn 
has not been cheapened as it ought to have been when 
the Corn Laws were abolished. I am aware, we deplor- 
ably waste grain : that is a large, a very large, topic. 
Still, even with our existing bad habits, the market would 
soon abound with cheaper grain, fruit, roots, and all 
agricultural produce, with great relief to both town and 
country, if every one who desired to work on the land 
could get a safe tenure, and the number of actual pro- 
prietors were greatly enlarged. 





With many it is little short of an axiom that flesh- 
meat is necessary to strength, if not to health. With 
men it takes the form, * Without it, I should not be strong 
enough for my work ; ' with women, * It may suit ofker 
people to give it up, but I am sure / should soon be ill 
without it.^ Many actual vegetarians testify that until 
they tried the question fairly, they were fully persuaded 
that it could not suit //lem. Be it what it may to which 
we are accustomed, we are all liable to the delusion that 
there is in our constitution something peculiar which 
makes it needful to us. Without absolutely denying 
peculiarities of temperament, it is a fair axiom that there 
is some food normal to mankind, pre-eminently adapted 
to our animal nature in its earliest robust and wild state. 
Whatever this is, it is not rash to believe that such food 
must conduce to the greatest robustness of all who are 
normal men and women — all who have not a peculiarity 
almost morbid. Therefore vegetarians, believing that 
fruit and grain, pulse, roots and leaves were the primitive 
food, are very slow to believe in exceptional constitutions 
which cannot subsist on them. But it must be here 
added that 7fer}' few English vegetarians wholly refuse 
what our physicians call a milk diet — that is, they do not 
refuse milk and eggs in nioderation. If it be asked, 
* What is moderation ? * the present writer replies from 
his own practice, * Not to take more of milk and eggs as 


a vegetarian than you took when you were a flesh-eater.' 
To make a run on these two articles must be deprecated. 
In advanced and confirmed vegetarianism we shall doubt- 
less care for them less and less ; in the future of mankind 
they may almost vanish away. We do not really need the 
nitrogen which is in these two articles, if we make a 
judicious choice of vegetable food ; and when the cook 
is moderately skilful, neither do we miss the flavour. 

But we assert that for strength flesh-meat is not 
needed. Here even medical men and employers of 
labour have misled themselves and others by confining 
observation to a narrow field in which mistake is easy. 
Irishmen, who have been ill-paid for labour, and have 
worked grudgingly — men who have never had piecework, 
but have been paid only by time — are engaged for high 
wages ; they are made able to purchase flesh-food, and 
find themselves co-labourers of men accustomed to hard 
work. Example stimulates them, the high wage gives 
them good will, and they soon become far harder workers 
than they ever were before. Perhaps they had even been 
somewhat under-fed previously. Certainly, if they had 
been used to mere potatoes without skim-milk, all vege- 
tarians, as well as other men, will account them under-fed. 
Such is often the case with Irishmen. Then their in- 
creased abihty and willingness- to work hard is imputed 
solely to the flesh-meat. If they had had beans, peas, or 
oatmeal instead, nothing in the alleged facts forbids our 
saying that this food, with the same wages, would have 
elicited hard work out of them as successfully as beef or 
mutton. Evidently then the experiment is deficient. It 
proves nothing as it stands ; yet people ought to know 
better than trumpet such cases as decisive. 

On the other side we have evidence, not from imper- 
fect and narrow trials, but from what is notorious, con 


ceming great nations and from manifold experience. Dr. 
Edward Smith reported officially to the Privy Council 
that the quantity of flesh which Irish peasants eat in the 
course of the year is too small to take account of. Too 
many of them have no food but potatoes ; but when 
they can besides get skim-milk — or butter-milk, where 
butter is made from milk and not from mere cream — they 
are as strong as Englishmen or Scotchmen can be, and 
remarkably healthy. O'Connell was able to boast that 
the Irish peasantry was * the finest in the world,' without 
fear of ridicule for any great extravagance, the fact being 
that the average are full-sized, strong, and handsome. 
Especially the peasants of County Kerry are praised — 
men certainly nurtured on a very minimum of flesh-meat. 
If they can keep a cow and get potatoes they are ex- 
cellently off for food. The Scotch Highland gillie, reared 
on oatmeal, is taller and broader than a majority of flesh- 
eating Englishmen, and his strength exceeds theirs, 
whether in a short effort or in a long day's fatigue. In 
England the strongest and tallest men are the country 
people who eat least of flesh, as in the ruder districts of 
Yorkshire, Cumberland, Northumberland ; and though 
men are picked for size and strength to act as draymen 
in our towns, and when well fed on mutton and beef are 
of course very powerful, yet they are generally more in- 
flammable and liable to disease ; therefore it is not hkely 
that their strength would last in a long trial so well as 
that of vegetarian peasants. 

The annual reports of the Vegetarian Society contain 
remarkable testimonies from workers at iron furnaces 
(puddlers), navvies, and other men whose work is arduous, 
that by entirely disusing flesh-meat they had gained much 
in strength, and could fearlessly challenge competition. 
There are also testimonies from studious men that their 

ESS A YS ON" DIE Ti 1 123 

digestion is much improved, and their heads clearer, from 
confining themselves to vegetarian food. 

Passing from England to other countries we find the 
same fact — namely, on a broad view, the country people 
who eat least meat are everywhere the strongest part of 
the nation. The Scandinavians and the Russians live 
chiefly on grain or on vegetable compost, sometimes with 
a flavour of fish. The P'inns, who live on grain, are 
handsomer and stronger than the Lapps in nearly the 
same region, who live on marine animals. The Germans 
are fond of sausage, but the chief articles of their food 
are grain, vegetables, and jams. The Italians, who are 
nourished on bread or polenta and raisins or figs, were old 
Napoleon's hardiest soldiers. The Spaniards, fed prin- 
cipally on bread and onions, are a very fine and powerful 
race. The strength of Greeks, fed chiefly or solely on 
vegetable food, is remarkably attested. Space here does 
not allow details ; but the reader may find them in the 
book of Mr. John Smith, of Malton, entitled, * Fruits and 
Farinacea.' The Persians and Turkomans under Persia, 
who live on bread and cheese and water, received un- 
bounded praise for strength and enduring activity from 
the English oflScers who were employed to drill them in 
the first half of this century ; and their winter is severe, 
far beyond that of England. The Armenians are a noble 
race of men ; they chiefly supply porters to Constantinople, 
and are renowned for strength, as are the boatmen of the 
Bosphorus. Mr. James Silk Buckingham, in commenting 
on this, observed that their food was vegetarian. The same 
fact is found among the Kroomen of Africa and Hindoos 
of the hills. Thus it cannot reasonably be maintained 
that flesh-meat is at all needful for full human strength. 

Next, as to flavour. The flavour which most captivates 
epicures in a dish of flesh-meat depends much on the 


. . - ~ - I 

vegetable dressing. The mutton chop has mushroom 
ketchup or tomato ; even roast mutton has red currant 
elly ; roast veal and turkey have stuffing ; pork has apple 
sauce ; duck has sage and onion ; boiled mutton has 
capers ; and so on. It is not denied that flesh (especially 
roasted) has' a peculiar flavour of its own ; yet not many 
dishes would be acceptable if bereft of vegetable dressing. 
On the other hand, the vegetable world has an infinity of 
fine flavours ; and vegetarian dishes, under a moderately 
skilful cook, have a great and satisfying variety of taste, 
without any aid from flesh. We despise the narrow- 
mindedness of an uneducated Englishman, who, when he 
goes to France or Germany, always mopes and grumbles 
that he cannot get English dishes. Surely to the same 
narrowness of mind it belongs to imagine that without 
the special savour of flesh all the wealth of vegetable 
nature cannot satisfy the palate. 

In a first article an attempt was made to remove the 
erroneous prejudice that flesh-meat is essential to a 
labouring man's strength, and the still weaker objection 
that nothing is so nice to the palate as the flesh of dead 
animals. The argument concerning strength appealed to 
the actual facts concerning many great nations ; but now, 
we may well ask, Why should this surprise any one? 
What, according to our foremost chemists and physiolo- 
gists — such as Dr. Prout, Baron Liebig, Dr. Lyon Play- 
fair, Dr. W. B. Carpenter — are the necessary elements of 
human food ? They reply, nitrogenous material to pro- 
duce albumen^ and oleaginous, saccharine, or starchy 
material to produce animal heat. In all food they recog- 
nise these two principles, often called flesh-formers and 
heat-formers. But Dr. Lyon Playfair and others dis- 
tinctly avow that the gluten of wheat, barley, oats, &c., 
is chemically identical with albumen, a substance well 


known to us in the white of egg. Therefore, on the face 
of the matter, nothing can be easier than to dispense 
with lean meat, so far as our supply of albumen to repair 
our muscular tissues is concerned ; for we can get the 
material with perfect ease in the farinaceous food, which 
may be supplied beyond limit by cultivation. If any 
suspicion enter the mind that the gluten in grain is not 
sufficient in quantity, reply is easy without appeal to 
science. We have but to ask ourselves whence the sheep, 
the ox, the pig, the horse, gets that albumen which 
abounds in their flesh, on account of which the meat is 
coveted for our food. Evidently the albuminous elements 
must exist abundantly, not only in the oats and beans 
which we give to our horses, but even in grasses and 
cabbages, Swedish turnips and mangold, though our di- 
gestive organs are not equal to the task of extracting our 
necessary food out of grass* Man is frugivorous, not 
herbivorous as the sheep and ox. The horse has much 
shorter intestines than the sheep, yet even he can keep 
up full strength on grass only. If a pig be fed on flesh, 
we refuse to eat it, as we refuse all beasts of prey. Our 
daintiness requires the flesh of a vegetarian pig, perhaps 
fattened on oatmeal. Oatmeal must, of course, contain 
albumen in sufficient abundance to produce pig-meat, 
and therefore to produce human flesh ; but it is com- 
puted that one pound of oatmeal eaten by a human being 
goes as far for that purpose as six or seven pounds 
devoted to make pork ; the difference — the five or six 
pounds which we lose — being expended in giving to the 
pig the pleasure of living. It is at any rate quite clear 
that the nitrogenous element which we covet in flesh food 
exists sufficiently in oatmeal and other grain. 

But here another current error needs to be pointed 
out. Even medical men have been accustomed to argue 


as if highly nitrogenous food were the matter of chief 
importance; hence they come forward with a candid 
avowal that in pulse — i.e, beans, peas, and lentils— vege- 
tarians have a really important and valuable food, inas- 
much as pulse has a larger percentage of nitrogen than 
even lean beef. It is not intended here to undervalue 
pulse. Lentils are found by the Hindoos to go admirably 
with rice. Beans are an excellent addition to potatoes ; 
so, indeed, is cabbage. Green peas with good bread 
make a palatable and satisfying meal. Pease pudding 
was nourishment for a Greek Hercules, and for us is too 
stuffy, unless well lowered by potatoes or rice. The 
truth is, that any excess of albuminous food is decidedly 
unwholesome. Dr. Prout first announced authoritatively 
that gout and stone, with other kindred diseases, arise 
from too great an albuminous supply to the blood. 
Immense effort is being made in certain quarters to 
detect what element in the natural streams or wells of 
water afflicts the drinkers with these diseases. But gout 
and stone never afflicted the poorer part of the popula- 
tion, who drank either the same water or worse than the 
richer part. Gout is all but unknown to the vegetarian 
Irish. By all means let us avoid drinking lime and chalk 
in our water if we can ; but it is too absurd to pretend 
that bad drinking-water caused the gout to our aristo 
cracy and our gluttonous townspeople in past genera- 
tions, and that the marked lessening of this disease in 
the last sixty years comes from our drinking better water. 
Modern banquets are painfully and blamably luxurious ; 
but French cookery, numerous vegetables, preparations 
of fish, elaborate sweet dishes, to say nothing of fruit, 
have largely superseded masses of unrelieved solid meat 
and soups laden with meat essence, in which our grand- 
fathers and their ancestors indulged perniciously. A 


moderate supply of albumen is, doubtless, essential ; but 
as soon as the supply is excessive, it becomes noxious. 
To preach up this kind of food as the matter of chief 
importance, is to propagate a pernicious delusion. It is 
now ascertained that the same food which gives animal 
heat gives also vital force; without which the human 
muscles, however large and hard, cannot act, any more 
than a steam-engine, however strong its iron fabric, can 
work without a supply of burning fuel. The iron after 
long work needs repair, no doubt ; but the fuel must be 
supplied continuously. Just so the muscular tissue needs 
a small daily supply of albumen in the blood ; but to 
keep up vital heat and force needs a far larger amount of 
the appropriate food. Many reasoners are so thoughtless 
as to urge that flesh, when eaten, must produce flesh of 
man more easily and speedily than does vegetable gluten ; 
as if the flesh were to be plastered upon our flesh ! Nay, 
but the flesh which we eat must be broken up, chewed, 
mixed with saliva, dissolved by the juices of the stomach, 
until, by various chemical additions and changes, it is 
converted into blood, before the process of reconstructing 
our flesh can begin. Thus it has no advantage over 
vegetable food on this score ; many will maintain, on the 
contrary, that its digestion is, on the whole, more diffi- 
cult. Not to enter that tangled subject, it suffices to 
urge that beyond contradiction a human body largely 
nourished on flesh-meat is far more inflammable than 
one fed solely, or almost entirely, on vegetable food. 
The flesh-eater is more liable to contagious diseases, and 
his wounds heal less readily. Our surgeons in India 
have observed the advantage which, in this respect, the 
Hindoos, living on grain or rice, have over British soldiers. 
Thus far, we claim the balance of argument, for health 
and strength is decisively in favour of vegetarian food. 


.   ^ 

If it be true, as maintained in these papers, that flesh 
food is not at all needful to human strength or health ; if, 
in fact, it conduces to all gouty disorders, when taken in 
excess by men who have no hard muscular labour, and 
causes even to hardworkers who live largely upon it a 
more inflammable state of body ; how infatuated is it in 
working men to covet this expensive food ! Indeed, 
since 1847 they have run up the price of it by their 
enormous demand, and have greatly squandered upon it 
their increased wages, even when they have abstained 
from intemperance in drink. Besides this waste of money 
in buying dear food instead of cheap, another evil still 
worse has been caused by their demand for flesh-meat, 
since 1847, when the abolition of the Corn Laws enlarged 
the market to the ^manufacturers, enriched the masters, 
and thereby raised the wages of the mea The meat 
which the artisans sought in the market could not be 
adequately supplied from the immediate neighbourhood 
of each manufacturing town. It had to be brought long 
distances — as from Scotland, and also from beyond sea — 
and in travelling, whether by ship, by rail, or on their 
own feet, the animals suffered so great hardship that a 
portion of them has uniformly come to market in a fevered 
or otherwise unwholesome condition, which the salesmen 
are slow to discern or to beliwe. Again, the English 
graziers, anxious to take advantage of the rising prices, 
have tried to breed cattle as fast as they can. For this, 
they kill the milch cows while young, and put in their 
place younger heifers. Thus, as they themselves state, a 
large portion of the cattle are bred from immature parents, 
and are of weakly constitution, ready to accept any 
murrain that may be rife in any season. Such being the 
situation, it has most strangely been imagined possible to 
* stamp out ' cattle murrain by killing thousands in whom 


the disease is suspected. The causes of the disease being 
left untouched, no permanent cure can come in this way : 
the supply is lessened and prices are hoisted up with no 
benefit to the graziers. All the diseased meat can never 
be condemned ; a margin always remains of what is 
suspected^ and is sold off cheap. To this many of the poor 
fall victims, if they unhappily regard flesh food as a 
necessity or as a highly valued luxury. The vegetarian 
avoids this danger, and does not empty his purse on an 
expensive and less wholesome food. 

But not only in the individual is the struggle for flesh- 
meat evil — it is evil to the community also by lessening 
to us the food produce of our soil. If men feed wholly 
on beef, four, five, or even seven acres for the cattle would 
not go so far in giving food to man as a single acre 
devoted to feed us by its vegetable crops. Moreover, in 
a region given over to grazing, a small rustic population 
suffices to tend the cattle ; hence the rural areas are 
emptied of men, who are constantly driven out of the 
country into the towns. This is a very grave national 
evil, which cannot be here adequately opened As regards 
the cattle, it seems to be forgotten that they s^rve other 
uses besides supplying us with food. Sheep are valued 
for their wool, which is finest and best when they graze 
over stony hills or mountain tops which can seldom be 
cultivated. Leather, horns, and hoofs are valuable even 
when an ox or bull dies of old age ; but, in fact, if we 
generally used bulls and oxen for the plough and cart, as 
in past centuries we did, and other nations do still — nay, 
as in Somersetshire they are beginning to do again because 
horses are so dear — we should no more grudge to the 
bull his food than to the horse. Not that we cannot 
easily make from vegetables a substance as good and far 
more convenient than leather — indeed, it is made in 



London now ; but until we give up milk and its products 
we must needs have about as many male calves as 
females to deal with. 

The natural history (so to say) of human food is clear 
enough. Man is primitively a tropical product. His 
hairless skin marks him as best suited to the very equator. 
In Arctic regions the hairless elephant was replaced by 
the shaggy mammoth : the larger apes have a good 
amount of hair. Nothing to approach this is known in 
any truly human tribe, though some of us, like a Homeric 
hero, show a thin line of shag on the bosom. While 
savage men live in man's native climate, they are natural 
vegetarians, just as are the cow or the deer ; and Poly- 
nesians thus fed are eminently strong and beautiful 
Vegetarian food seldom tempts to excess. But when 
rude men wander into untrodden and colder regions, 
where in most months in the year there is no wild fruit — 
nay, where not much of fruit or eatable roots is easily to 
be found even in summer or autumn — they of necessity 
eat fish, birds, or quadrupeds — whatever they can catch. 
To sow or plant crops is a much later process; for it 
implies that they stay in the same place (or at least 
return to it) five or six months later, and that they are 
capable of defending the crop in the interval This flesh 
food is essential to roving barbarism, and to the great 
majority of mankind while barbarism lasts ; but no popu- 
lation can become other than sparse until it betakes itself 
to cultivation of the ground, and derives by far the largest 
portion of its food direct from the earth. That the 
richer classes continue longest the barbarian habit of 
flesh-eating, evidently has not been from a scientific con- 
viction that * a mixed diet ' is most wholesome, but from 
the tendency of wealth to a luxurious heaping together 
of multifarious food. Five dishes are put on the table. 


where one suffices. Each host in turn declines the 
painful task of prescribing to guests what they shall eat : 
thus food, like old laws, introduced in times of barbarism, 
is continued by those who can afford it, when the original 
reasons for it have vanished. Very few people in a nation 
think at all fundamentally on the question, * What is the 
best food for man?' And they are too few to aifect 
national habits by argument, until events enforce serious 
inquiry. In general, the rich eat whatever they like-— 
and in their likings custom has great power ; next, the 
poor strive to imitate the rich. Hence the recent aspir- 
ing of the artizans to flesh-meat, because it is eaten 
largely by well-to-do tradesmen and other townsfolk — 
though assuredly most of them are the worse for it. This 
is demonstrated by two wide-spread phenomena: the 
uncomely protuberant forms of so many men above the 
age of forty, and the immense prevalence of stomach 
ailments. Wild animals, living on their natural food, do 
not change their form with age, nor do we see many 
peasants with the paunches of aldermen. Vegetarian 
food, being large in bulk, thereby distends the stomach 
(as is necessary for digestion), and makes any excess in 
eating painful. On the contrary, the condensed state of 
flesh food tends to excess ; and we see the result.^ 

In discussing what is the best food for man, we may 
argue (i), from the experience of great nations and the 
testimony of individuals; (2), from the chemical con- 
stituents of food— on both of which subjects something 

1 Much information on the subject of food and dietetics has been 
collected by the Vegetarian Society, 75 Princess Street, Manchester, and 
placed at the service of the public. A list of such publications can be 
had on application. Its monthly magazine, the Dietetic Reformer^ 
{2d, monthly or 2s. 6d. per year free by post), also gives constant attention 
to the subject of pure food in all its bearings, and much interesting in- 
formation as to the progress and work of the Vegetarian Society. 


has been said; and (3), from the comparison of the 
human organs with those of other animals which know 
their natural food by unperverted instinct. This third 
topic involves anatomy and physiology, and admits large 
development. We must again refer our readers to the 
work on 'Fruits and Farinacea,' by John Smith, of 
Malton ; also to a pamphlet by Mr. William Hoyle, of 
Bury, on *Food: its Nature and Adaptability to the 
Human Organism;' and to another pamphlet by Dr. F. 
R. Lees. All are to be had at the depot of the Vege- 
tarian Society. Indeed, a4:hird pamphlet by Mr. T. H. 
Barker bore a principal part in converting the present 
writer to Vegetarianism. It will be observed that the 
persons who have most studied the question of alcoholic 
drink, naturally turn to the kindred question of the best 
human food 

Here it is especially to the purpose to remark on the 
human teeth, because the opponents to Vegetarianism, 
even medical men, are apt to show concerning our denti- 
tion so much dogmatism and so much ignorance. They 
are ridiculously carried away by the epithet canine. 
Assuming that we have dogs' teeth, they infer that we 
need dogs' food But our teeth, so called, are not at all 
like dogs' teeth. We have four pointed teeth, but none 
of them lap over like the fangs of a dog or of a tiger. 
The extremities of our teeth lie all in one plane; but 
between the fangs of a dog is a series of short teeth, 
between which he can carry, say, a duck, pinned down by 
his fangs. The human mouth is totally unfit for such 
use. By the avowal of anatomists, our digestive organs 
closely resemble those of the ape, and so do our teeth. 
Our teeth improperly termed canine have their repre- 
sentatives in the mouth of the ape, but the ape's fangs 
are larger than ours, and crack nuts with great ease. Ap- 
parently this is their natural use, which we have super- 


seded by art. No ape in its wild condition is known to 
feed on flesh, not even the dog-headed baboon. The 
more human apes-r-namely, the ouran-outang, the chim- 
panzee, the gorilla — are simply frugivorous : hence, with- 
out entering further into anatomical and physiological 
detail, for which there is here no space, it suffices to 
indicate the position for which vegetarians contend — 
namely, they assert that the digestive organs of man, 
with his teeth, show that his most natural and primitive 
food is grain and fruit By the use of fire, and by other 
aids, he is able to turn to service as food many substances 
on which he could not feed when in ape-like surround- 
ings: hereby he was enabled to overstep the tropical 
regions, and to live first in a temperate, then in an arctic 
climate, on food less natural to him. But hereby he 
encountered a great liability to disease, and lost some- 
thing alike in beauty, robustness, and longevity. Thus 
flesh food was needed by him in his transitional state of 
barbarism ; and during this state, while men were few on 
a vast area, and the animals were in their natural condi- 
tion, their meat was least unwholesome to man. But 
when it comes to this, that the beasts are cribbed and 
cabined, fattened up in stalls on artificial food, then 
driven panting and puffing to market, or hurried by rail 
or steamboat, bound with ropes, tossed by waves, beaten 
and terrified, befouled by one another, thirsty and starved 
— can we deliberately approve such a system for feeding 
huge town populations ? 

Vegetarians have three essentially different heads of 
argument: first, the question what food is best and 
natural to man as an animal, which must be answered 
from experience and science; secondly, the argument 
from economy both to the individual and to the nation. 
By the limited area of our soil ; by the urgent need of 
abundant cheap food, supplied to us at home without 


fear from winds, waves, or foreign wars; by the great 
importance of increasing our population, especially in all 
the rural areas, so as to retain the relative importance of 
England side by side with the growth of other nations ; 
the Government and the richest classes are warned that 
we have fully reached the era for cherishing Vegeta- 
rianism, just as the poorer are warned by the increasing 
price of meat. As a nation grows more populous, it must 
commensurately become more and more vegetarian in its 
food. This movement has gone on with us from Queen 
Elizabeth down to 1847. It is the natural and reasonable 
course. But since 1847 we have tried to reverse the 
course of history and of nature; with what result? 
Flesh-meat is enormously increased in price, middle- 
class families are distressed, the artizans are not stronger 
than were their fathers, their earnings are wasted by the 
new food, and eruptions of small-pox surprise us. Whe- 
ther this is at all attributable to the consumption of un- 
wholesome flesh is doubtful, yet the coincidence may 
make us ponder. Its origin must be in unwholesome 
food or unwholesome air, or both together. At any rate, 
the nation has bought no worthy result by the vast sums 
which it has squandered on flesh-meat, since the era at 
which we hoped to get (forsooth ?) cheaper bread. It 
was well to import wheat, which ripens better under the 
continental sun ; but the wheat land thus left free should 
have been covered with crops equally destined for human 
food. One sentence more is needed before quitting the 
topic of economy. If, as most people take for granted, 
human population must go on, and ought to go on, in- 
creasing. Vegetarianism is the inevitable future of all great 
nations, and becomes the goal for man in his highest 
and noblest cultivation. Surely this one consideration 
ought to hush in shame all silly ridicule. 

But there is a third topic used by vegetarians — in the 

.^ -^ 


mind of many of prime importance — which has not yet 
been touched, although it was this which first awakened 
Mr. John Smith, of Malton, and sufficed to convert him. 
We must admit into our moral treatises the question of 
the rights of animals ; and not only the limits of our 
rights over them, but other topics hence arising. When 
man must starve unless he kill a deer or a bison, no one 
blames the slaughter ; but it does not follow that when 
we have plenty of wholesome food without killing, we 
are at liberty to kill for mere gratification of the palate. 
To nourish a taste for kilhng is morally evil; to be 
accustomed to inflict agony on harmless animals by 
wounding or maiming them without remorse, prepares 
men's hearts for other cruelty. How great a delight the 
tameness of birds and beasts gives to children, every 
parent must know : we all regard it as a sort of Paradise 
when, as in the Galipago Islands, Mr. C. Darwin attests 
the birds and beasts have no fear of man. The sports- 
man who turns their gentle confidence into terror. and 
wildness, robs all other men of one of the purest plea- 
sures of life. Few of us, after fondling a gazelle or a 
lamb, could bear to kill it, or would like to eat its flesh ; 
and if we shrink to act the butcher ourselves, can it be 
right to delegate to another a task which we feel it would 
harden our own hearts to fulfil? Undoubtedly the 
slaughter of large cattle does involve much cruelty. 
Vivisectionists exultingly point at it as a justification of 
themselves. But the case here diflers widely with dif- 
ferent animals, and cannot be treated concisely. Of 
course, the unvertebrated have far less sensibility. A 
worm cut in two by the spade does not suffer nervous 
pain, and fish thrown up by the sea probably die by an 
easy death. Nor does capture by the net inflict any 
agony, nor can fish ever be tame to us and a source of 
daily pleasure. Moreover, fish food does not displace 


agriculture, but is an actual addition to the national sup-^ 
ply. Hence, the present writer has always maintained 
that fish ought to be placed in a separate category. As, 
while crops could not be protected, man needed to feed 
on flesh, so, until good butter and oil can be brought 
within poor men's reach, they will consume sprats^ 
bloaters, and herrings. This may be done while they 
renounce the flesh of beast and bird, and wholly refuse 
to countenance butchery and sport. If man is to become 
more perfect here on earth, he must learn to delight in 
the trust and affection of animals more than in the in- 
dulgence of arbitrary appetite. 

Lengthy as this discussion may appear, scarcely any 
mention has been made of that very important article, 
fruit, the original food of man. In Ceylon or India a 
single fruit tree may suffice to feed a family. In France 
it is computed that a given area produces the maximum 
of human food when planted with chestnut trees. Wher- 
ever fruit can ripen it is probably the most economic 
crop; with us apples, damsons, and cobnuts perhaps 
deserve most especial praise, yet even in the open air the 
vine is not to be despaired of, and our bush fruit is very 
valuable. All our people need to be taught certain small 
arts of gardening and cooking. Every cottage might 
have a sufficiency of pot-herbs and a few trees or bushes 
with fruit. Meanwhile, our market is luxuriously sup- 
plied with cheap oranges for at least five months in the 
year, and a variety of dry fruit and nuts most delicious 
and most satisfying. The next generation, if reared wisely 
with a better taste, will not think the renunciation of flesh 
any sacrifice, but will feel itself abundantly rich in the 
marvellous variety of vegetarian flavours. 

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